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The 2021 increase in gas prices finds Athens drivers paying more for a gallon of regular unleaded on Monday at the first of the year.

GasBuddy, which tracks prices at 150,000 stations across North America shows Athens’ lowest as $2.12 at both Murphy USA and Brookshire’s on East Tyler Street. That’s a bit below the Texas average of $2.16. The Henderson County average was $2.23 per gallon.

Nationally, the average price has now increased for five straight weeks and was $2.45 per gallon on Monday.

“Many factors continue to push oil prices higher, but at the foundation of the rise is the fact that the coronavirus situation continues to improve, pushing global oil demand higher as production continues to lag,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy.

GasBuddy predicts the cost of a gallon of gas will inch ahead this week, fueled by a rally in oil prices.

Other area stations, on Monday, were showing $2.15 at the Murphy USA in Gun Barrel City the Brookshire’s in Mabank and the Brookshire’s in Seven Points.

"The price increases are dramatic when compared to just a few weeks ago. In the first weekly report of 2021, the lowest prices in Athens were a bit below the state average, with both the Brookshire's and Murphy USA showing $1.89 per gallon. In early November they were charging $1.73 and $1.72 respectively.

The increase is even greater when compared with last spring when area stations were recording some of their lowest prices in years brought about by COVID-19 shutdowns and the public's reluctance to travel during the spread of the pandemic. On May 19, the lowest price in Athens was $1.53.

GasBuddy releases its regular report on Monday, which is usually the best day to find a low gas price.

"Very early in the week, when gas stations are generally a little bit quieter traffic-wise, is a great time to fill up," DeHaan said. "We generally see more volatility and higher prices later in the week

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