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Gas prices start off the year high

Dale Brauning pumps gas at the Exxon Station in Taneytown Monday.
Dale Brauning pumps gas at the Exxon Station in Taneytown Monday. (KEN KOONS/STAFF PHOTO , Carroll County Times)

TANEYTOWN - Dale Brauning smiled as he waited for his gas tank to fill in his white Ford 250 truck, which takes about $100 whenever he fills up.

He bought his truck in 2003 when gas prices were a "little cheaper," he said. He has two vehicles he fills up, he said. There is the truck he uses primarily for work and a Honda Accord which takes about $40 to fill up. Monday, Brauning filled up his tank for $3.43 a gallon at the Exxon in Taneytown.

"Yeah, it's going to hurt," Brauning said, shrugging his shoulders, unfazed by lingering gas prices which have remained stubbornly above $3.

Jan. 1 was the highest gas prices have ever been on New Year's Day since AAA Mid-Atlantic began recording them in 2000, said spokesperson Christine Delise. On New Year's Day, the national average was $3.29. Maryland averaged $3.38.

In Carroll County, the average for a gallon on Monday was slightly lower than at the start of the year with $3.37 per gallon, according to the AAA Fuel Price Finder.

"Right now, we may see a slight increase in gas prices now kicking off the beginning of the year because of the resolution of the fiscal cliff," Delise said.

Because investor confidence returns and economic fears are assuaged, the price of crude oil typically gets pushed up, Delise said. Because 72 percent of the cost of gasoline is attributed to crude oil, if crude oil rises or declines, it impacts the price at the pump.

"What we've been seeing is that crude oil has been trending upward because there's the assumption that there is investment confidence," Delise said.

With job numbers showing tentative improvements in the economy, there's the assumption there will be more of a demand for crude oil for sectors like transportation and manufacturing, which drives prices up, Delise said.

AAA does not expect prices to be as high as in 2012, Delise said. Gas prices in 2012 averaged $3.60 per gallon, the highest on record, according to AAA. Factors like hurricanes, the derecho and tensions in the Middle East caused prices to rise in the past year.

Delise said this year gas prices should level off around February and March because people drive less during the winter than during the summer.

Brauning, who has a 30-gallon tank in his Ford F250, said it's possible gas prices could go down in 2013, but "I don't see it happening."

A few years ago he used to be able to get cheaper gas in Littlestown. Pa., where is from, but now prices are largely the same. Brauning said gas prices are cheaper in pockets of the county, like Westminster, but in Taneytown, they are all about even.

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