Gas prices expected to rise in 2018

Don Knight | The Herald BulletinRegular unleaded was selling for $2.51 at the Ricker's on 8th Street on Saturday.

ANDERSON — Drivers will need to dig a little deeper into their wallets this year as gas prices are expected to rise an average of 19 cents over last year.

Commuters can expect to pay around $2.57 per gallon in 2018, the highest price since 2014, according to the 2018 Fuel Price Outlook report released by GasBuddy.

The average household is expected to spend $1,898 on gas throughout 2018, an increase of about $130 over last year. The nation’s yearly gasoline bill will rise to $364.6 billion, some $25 billion higher than what motorists spent last year.

GasBuddy’s forecast does not expect any record-breaking prices, and most of the country will see prices peak under $3 per gallon, but unexpected disruptions could push the national average close to that threshold.

“Ultimately, OPEC bears much of the responsibility for cutting oil production, leading oil inventories to begin 2018 nearly 50 million barrels lower than a year ago,” said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy.

While prices should remain below $3, any unexpected events affecting gasoline manufacturing or distribution could cause higher prices.

“Even one event can completely change the trajectory of fuel prices for months,” DeHaan said. “Look what impact Hurricane Harvey and Irma had on gas prices and availability.”

In recent years, GasBuddy’s forecasts have been fairly accurate.

In 2017, the forecast called for a yearly national average of $2.49 with an actual average of $2.39. In 2016, the forecast called for a yearly national average of $2.28, just 16 cents higher than the year’s real average of $2.12.

While gasoline prices overall remain affordable, one aspect that continues to worsen is the gap between what different stations in the same city are charging, DeHaan said.

“It’s become nothing short of crazy how one station might sell gasoline 20 to 40 cents lower or higher than a nearby competitor,” he said. “Always shop around when filling your tank. We spend thousands of dollars a year filling the tank. A dime or quarter per gallon adds up to hundreds of dollars.”

Average gas prices

2016 - $2.39

2017 - $2.12

2018 (projected) - $2.57

SOURCE: GasBuddy

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