Johnson City ranks as 4th most expensive metro for gas in Tennessee in recent weekly study


JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) – Gas prices have been on the rise nationwide and the Tri-Cities region is no exception.

According to a recent study conducted by AAA, gas prices, on average, have increased a total of 44 cents since January 1st.

As of Monday, Johnson City is the 4th most expensive metro in the state with only 11% of Johnson City gas stations still pricing regular gas below $2.25.

While increases in prices are rarely welcomed with open arms, there is an upside. Megan Cooper, a spokesperson for AAA told News Channel 11’s Kelly Grosfield that while Johnson City is sitting in the top five cities for most expensive gas, Tennessee as a whole is actually ranked number nine in terms of cheapest gas nationwide.

There are a number of factors that go into determining gas prices, the cost of crude oil, and supply and demand are among the top factors.

Due to the pandemic, travel this past year was down. With travel bans and stay-at-home orders in place, what typically constitutes the busiest travel months of the year, were anything but.

However, with vaccine distribution underway and the lifting of restrictions nationwide, travel will once again become popular leading to yet another increase.

While these are the most expensive prices the Tri-Cities seen locally in quite some time, the increase was inevitable.

The most recent rise in gas prices is attributed to the winter storm that hit the Gulf Coast in recent weeks halting operations, but even before that, the price of crude oil was on the rise, which in turn, leads to an increase for overall gas prices.

Throughout the pandemic, the cost of a barrel of crude oil was typically about $40 and now it’s sitting at just under $60 per barrel, according to Cooper.

Cooper said many may be surprised to learn that when they pay at the pump, they aren’t just paying for the gas that goes in their car.

“There’s really a lot that goes into that pump price that we don’t even think about,” said Cooper.

More than 50% of that cost is for crude oil, with a little more than 15% each going towards distribution and marketing, refining costs and profits, and federal and state taxes.

Over the past week, there was a 12 cent jump across the state due mainly to that winter weather. Similar increases occur when hurricanes threaten the Gulf Coast since that’s where most of Tennessee’s gas comes from.

Chart courtesy of AAA

In a typical year, a bump in demand for gas comes in the Spring. “We likely won’t see another huge jump at the pump anytime soon, but more than likely, we’re still going to see those gas prices slowly trend upwards over the next couple weeks and especially into our Spring and Summer driving season,” said Cooper.

She said the summer months tend to be the most expensive due to the increase in travel as well as those potential impacts from hurricane season.

She also spoke on the different blends used as in a winter-blend and summer-blend in terms of oil. According to AAA, in Spring, gas refineries are down for maintenance in order to switch from winter-blend to summer-blend gasoline. The switch can lead to prices increasing by several cents a gallon, but we’re not quite at that stage yet.

While the price is higher than we’ve grown accustomed to over the past months, Cooper said the trends right now do not show any more significant jumps in price, but prices will continue to rise by a few cents here and there.

“We may not get over that $3 mark before the end of the year but we’re likely to stay at least kind of where we are and likely to see a little more expensive gas prices in our future,” she said.

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