Volatile gas prices predicted for 2014

Published: Thursday, Dec. 26, 2013 5:40 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, Dec. 27, 2013 3:35 p.m. CDT
Caption
(AP photo)
Customers fill their tanks with gas on Dec. 11 in El Dorado, Ark.

Motorists should buckle up and prepare for a volatile year at the gas pump, some analysts say.

U.S. gasoline prices are expected to see huge swings in prices in 2014, according to an analysis by GasBuddy, a crowd-sourced fuel price website.

“We see the potential for dramatic price spikes and equally dramatic price plunges,” GasBuddy said in its price forecast for the coming year.

But in the end, a cheaper national average is expected.

The annual average regular gasoline retail price, which was $3.63 per gallon in 2012, is expected to average $3.50 per gallon in 2013 and $3.43 per gallon in 2014, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration Agency.

Though final figures will not be calculated by the agency until February, early reports indicate that crude oil prices remained relatively flat in 2013 and translated to falling gasoline prices.

According to the agency, after falling more than 40 cents per gallon from the beginning of September through November, the weekly national average again increased by 8 cents per gallon to reach $3.27 per gallon in December. This was due in part to unplanned refinery maintenance and higher crude oil prices.

The bleeding at the pump is expected again ahead of next year’s so-called driving season, GasBuddy said. By spring, retail gasoline prices will peak at $3.83 per gallon.

The good news is that the high prices aren’t expected to last, and a $4-or-higher gallon of gas would be unlikely.

Illinois has some of the highest gasoline prices in the county. An average Illinois driver pays $3.37 per gallon for regular gas, according to AAA reports. Nationally, drivers pay an average of $3.26 per gallon.

McHenry County is essentially on track with the rest of the state, with the area paying about $3.40 per gallon for regular gasoline, according to AAA’s Fuel Price Finder.

That’s down from what McHenry County drivers were paying six months ago at $3.80 per gallon, but higher than $3.24 this time last year.

Illinois is surrounded by states with lower price averages. Drivers in Indiana and Wisconsin pay $3.23 and $3.20 per gallon, respectively, and our neighbors to the west in Iowa pay only an average of $3.12 per gallon.

That state-by-state diversity will continue in 2014, GasBuddy said.

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