New year will likely bring higher gas prices

Ivan Schwartz
December 6, 2017

This time of year gas prices usually decrease because demand is down.

"On the week, 90 percent of states saw their gas price average drop - some even by double digits". It's the third consecutive week of declines, but AAA Michigan notes prices still are about 23 cents more than at the same point previous year.

States with the lowest average gas prices: Alabama ($2.20), MS ($2.21), Missouri ($2.22), Oklahoma ($2.23), SC ($2.24), Arkansas ($2.24), Tennessee ($2.26), Texas ($2.26), Louisiana ($2.28) and Virginia ($2.31).

Drivers can expect gas prices to continue to trend lower in the first few months of 2018, with potential to see the national gas-price average in the $2.25 to $2.35 range by February, AAA said. Prices increased 43 cents during the year in Montana, Wyoming, Hawaii and North Dakota, the AAA said.

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But on Monday, oil prices fell more than 1 percent as the market eyed signs of rising US production. Previous weeks saw gasoline demand numbers more consistent with summer demand, leaving less surplus gasoline to go into inventories, but last week saw gasoline inventories rise almost 4 million barrels, but are still down almost 45 million barrels from earlier this year, a factor contributing to the relatively high prices in recent weeks. Gas prices, however, are still relatively high because of crude oil prices.

OPEC's meeting that was scheduled for November 30, and any decisions to further cut or keep production rates stable, will "influence" longer-term forecasts for 2018. Lower demand because of the cooler weather and a cheaper winter blend of gasoline has finally brought relief to consumers.

"With OPEC deciding last week to extend last year's agreement on oil production cuts, the future for gasoline prices isn't as rosy", said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy.

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