The falling price of gas this past month may distract drivers from realizing that gas is actually more expensive this Thanksgiving than it has been since 2014. (Photo by /Getty Images)
Photo: Joe Raedle
Photo: Joe Raedle

Gas prices falling as millions hit roads

For more than 1 million Georgians who will hit the road this week on Thanksgiving excursions, the timing this drop in gas prices is pretty good.

The average price for gas in metro Atlanta is $2.44 a gallon, down about 36 cents from a month ago, according to Gas Buddy.

“Gas prices are getting more carved up than your turkey or ham this Thanksgiving,” said Patrick DeHaan, head of the company’s petroleum analysis.

Prices has been in retreat since hitting a yearly high of $2.90 in late May. Despite the slide, Thanksgiving driving is still more costly than it has been for several years.

Last year at this time, the price of Atlanta gas was $2.42 a gallon. Two years ago, it was $2.13. Three years ago, it was about $2.05.

Long-term, the price of gas is most driven by the price of its basic component: oil.

And oil prices have been under pressure for several years.

The price of a barrel of oil on Monday was hovering just above $56 in trading on Monday, compared to $76.41 in early October and $95 five years ago.

Most notable has been a surge of new production — in the United States, through fracking; and in Canada, through extraction from shale.

But whether it keeps falling or rebounds is dependent now on decisions made in oil-producing countries, tweeted Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis for the Oil Price Information Service.

Since demand is fairly steady, if production drops, that would nudge the global price up. On the other hand, an increase in production would mean lower prices.

“Oil is a supply story, not a demand story,” Kloza said.

Among the unanswered questions, how much American sanctions against Iran will cut its contribution to global markets and how much Saudi Arabia and Russia will pull back on production to push prices higher.

Nearly 1.6 million Georgians – and 54 million Americans — are likely to travel this week for the holiday, journeying 50 miles or more, with cars accounting for the vast majority of the movement, according to AAA.

That will be the most travel since 2005, the group said.

“More consumers are planning a trip for Thanksgiving this year thanks to a strong economy and falling gas prices,” said Megan Cooper, Georgia-based spokeswoman for AAA.

Which, of course, means more congestion.

According to AAA, the best days to travel will be Thanksgiving Day itself, Friday or Saturday.

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