Gas prices approach $3 a gallon

Published 11:10 am Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Carroll Keeter pumps gas at Farm Fresh in Franklin on Monday. -- Nicholas Langhorne | Tidewater News

FRANKLIN—Unha Bradshaw has noticed customers being more careful about what they pick up in her family’s Carrsville store as gas prices approach the $3-a-gallon mark.

“People watch what they’re buying,” she said from Bradshaws Country Store. “Gas is priority.”

According to AAA, the average price for a gallon of regular gas is now $3 in Virginia, an increase of 12 cents since last month and an increase of 35 cents since last year.

“The high price is an unwelcome beginning to a new year. This is the time of year when prices are typically at their lowest,” said Georjeane Blumling, vice president for public relations of AAA Tidewater Virginia. “It makes us wonder just how high prices will go in 2011.”

Kenny Thomas, who was filling up at the Sunoco gas station in Franklin on Monday, said gas prices in Murfreesboro, N.C., where he lives, usually run 5 to 15 cents more per gallon than Franklin.

“We live in the country, and a lot of people drive big, gas-guzzling vehicles,” Thomas said, adding that a lot of people are looking for cheaper gas.

“And I definitely find it in Franklin,” he said.

Carroll Keeter of Newsoms, however, said he’s noticed Franklin gas prices tend to be higher than other areas like Windsor and Suffolk.

“They’re too high,” Keeter said of gas prices as he filled up at Farm Fresh in Franklin on Monday. He said the United States should do more exploration and increase domestic production of oil to hold down prices.

Keeter said high prices haven’t changed his driving habits, but Bradshaw said she’s noticed that people — primarily older folks — are watching their driving habits.

“I’d like to see the gas prices come down lower so people can spend more in other areas,” Bradshaw said.

Crude oil prices could reach $100 a barrel this year for the first time since the beginning of the financial crisis in September 2008, according to AAA.

“The question on everyone’s mind is will we see pump prices rally to their second highest level in recorded history this spring,” Blumling said. “Some market watchers and analysts fear this will be the case.”