Gas hike a 'matter of time'
Fuel prices start summer climb

LAWRENCEVILLE - Oil prices continued to rise Thursday, climbing above $58 a barrel for the first time in nearly six months and motorists around Gwinnett watched prices at the pump rise, too.

"It was only a matter of time pretty much," said Bethlehem resident Nichole Foreman, who works in Lawrenceville. "We were very much enjoying it being under $2, we just knew it would go over that soon enough."

Foreman stopped for gas at the QuikTrip off Riverside Parkway in Lawrenceville, where a gallon of regular unleaded gas was $2.05 Thursday afternoon.

"Between here and Bethlehem, this is probably the cheapest place I could find it," she said. "I get it where I can get it cheap."

The average national retail price for a gallon of unleaded rose more than 3 cents overnight - the second 3-cent jump in as many days - to $2.141 a gallon, according to auto club AAA. That's nearly a dime higher than the price just a week ago but still $1.47 a gallon below year-ago levels.

"I think (fuel prices) are starting to climb because, you know, it's getting hot and they know people have got to burn the A/C so they're going to get more money out of the gas now," said Lawrenceville resident Corey Crossley as he put gas in his Kawasaki 636 motorcycle. "I think it's going to cause people to bring the motorcycles out more and the scooters and what-have-you to save gas."

Crossley, who works about 40 miles from his home, owns both a bike and an SUV.

"Nine times of out 10 nowadays I prefer the bike because it's less gas," he said. "It's about a $50 to $60 a week difference."

Experts say gasoline is likely to continue ticking upward as the summer driving period approaches, but no one predicts the extraordinary prices that topped $4 a gallon last summer.

'You're probably going to see prices next week knocking on the door of what the Department of Energy and some other folks thought would be the peak for the 2009 peak-driving season - about $2.30 a gallon,' said Tom Kloza, publisher and chief oil analyst at the Oil Price Information Service.

Gasoline retailers, he said, are simply reacting to a jump in wholesale prices.

'I think we'll see a peak in prices, then we'll drop back lower,' Kloza said. 'There's plenty of refining capacity on the shelf right now and there's nothing spectacular happening in terms of demand.'

The Associated Press contributed to this story.