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Prices rising at the pump

Photo by Jason Braverman

Photo by Jason Braverman

Fuel prices in Gwinnett and across the country are on the rise, as oil market experts cast a wary eye on a turbulent Middle East political climate that may dictate where they go from here.

Prices for regular-grade gas typically ranged between $3.07 and $3.09 per gallon in Gwinnett on Monday, right on target with the statewide average of $3.09.

The AAA’s “Fuel Gauge” reported the national average Monday at $3.17 per gallon.

Protests in the Middle Eastern countries of Bahrain, Yemen and Libya have some experts concerned that the unrest could escalate and disrupt oil production in the neighboring country of Saudi Arabia, resulting in fuel prices continuing to rise in the United States.

“Although investor concerns about the Middle East and North Africa are legitimate, since they account for 35 percent of the world’s oil supply and reserves, the unrest has not affected oil production or exports,” said Jessica Brady, a spokeswoman for AAA Auto Club South.

“Depending on what happens this week in the Middle East, the price of oil and gas could make further gains.”

The International Energy Agency reported Monday that there had been “no major disruptions in oil supply or production,” but oil prices jumped by more than $4 a barrel amid investor concerns that violent protests spreading in Libya could disrupt crude supplies from the OPEC nation and affect other oil-rich countries in the region.

One analyst said that, compared to previous unrest in Tunisia and Egypt, “instability in Libya is a major concern to the oil industry.”

U.S. markets were closed Monday for President’s Day.

Monday’s fuel prices were about 3 cents higher across Georgia than they were at the start of last week, Brady said, and 6 cents higher than a month ago.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.