Gasoline prices have begun their annual pendulum swing downward. Heading toward fall and winter, demand goes down and the less expensive winter-blend kicks in.

Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, said the first big hurricane of the season should not have a serious impact on prices because no refineries have been impacted.

“Outages continue to be a little bit of a challenge,” DeHaan said. At peak almost 40% of the stations in Florida experienced outages, but that situation has already improved greatly.

The average price of regular unleaded gasoline in Georgia Tuesday varied from $2.03 to $2.99 a gallon. The difference can be attributed largely to levels of competition.

“Some retailers are competitive and that forces others in the area to be more aggressive as well,” DeHaan said.

In Rome, prices for a gallon of regular unleaded varied from a low of $2.22 to a high of $2.32, according to a Rome News-Tribune drive-by survey across the city.

Statewide gas prices have risen $0.03 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $2.35 Tuesday, according to GasBuddy’s daily survey of 5,883 stations. Gas prices in Georgia are $0.17 cents per gallon lower than a month ago, yet stand $0.29 cents per gallon lower than a year ago.

Decades ago, travelers bought a lot of their gas from service stations that were actually owned by the big oil companies. That’s not always the case anymore because, for many of the big gas companies, the profits are so challenging.

“Selling gasoline is not lucrative, but in today’s world we live in, convenience is something that everybody is chasing,” DeHaan said. “Gas stations have certainly evolved and now we’re seeing dynamic retailers adjust to changing attitudes.”

Ricky Singh, who owns three Hi-Tech convenience stores in Floyd County, said he only makes $0.03 a gallon on gas. DeHaan said across the state it’s not unusual for retailers to make upwards of $0.15 a gallon on the sale of gas.

The analyst said the biggest pressure now on oil prices results from U.S-China trade tensions.

“They are dragging down oil prices for the reason that escalating tensions mean less buying power for consumers that are stuck paying the tariffs, and the inherent slowdown that could come to the economy as a result,” DeHaan said. “Whenever we see a slowdown in the economy we see a slowdown in oil demand and that’s why oil prices are also falling.”

Nationally the average price was $2.56 Tuesday, down $0.14 cents per gallon from a month ago and $0.26 cents per gallon lower than a year ago.

That marks seven straight weeks of decline.

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