Gas jumps to record $3.45 per gallon in Columbus

Gasoline prices took yet another painful leap into record territory today in Columbus, pushing 15 cents higher over the last five days.

The average price of regular unleaded surged to $3.451 per gallon locally, according to the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report. That's up from $3.30 per gallon last Wednesday.

Crude oil prices closed near $117 per barrel Friday. At the same time, demand has been dropping while oil refineries have been cutting back production voluntarily. Output is at 81 percent of capacity, the lowest level since Hurricane Katrina swamped the Gulf Coast in 2005, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

"Unfortunately, there is nothing on the horizon that would serve as an obstacle or disincentive to the crude oil rally,” said AAA Auto Club South spokesman Gregg Laskoski. "Until we see the dollar make significant gains versus the euro, we cannot expect crude oil or retail prices to fall."

Gas prices in Columbus are up from $3.22 per gallon a month ago and are 69 cents higher than they were on this date a year ago. They were $2.76 per gallon then.

The highest average recorded in Georgia today is nearly $3.52 per gallon in Athens, trailed by $3.49 in Atlanta, all-time highs for both cities.

The state's lowest average, as usual, can be found in Augusta, which is just under $3.41 per gallon.

Diesel fuel prices are continuing their record surge as well. They registered $4.16 per gallon today in Columbus, up nearly a dime since last Wednesday.

Nationally, more records are being broken as well.

The U.S. average for regular unleaded today is $3.50 per gallon, AAA reported. Diesel is $4.20 per gallon.