Will 2018 Be a More Expensive Year at the Gas Pump?

AAA reveals gas prices grew in the first weeks of January for the first time in four years.

On Monday, Jan. 22, the national average price of gas held steady at $2.54, only a one-cent increase from the week before.

According to The Energy Information Administration (EIA) while gasoline demand slightly dipped (146,000 b/d), gasoline inventory increased by 3.6 million bbl. Together, these two factors meant a minimal impact on the national average this past week. Nonetheless, AAA pointed out that week-over-week, gas prices increased for 41 states with Florida seeing the largest jump in pump price with a nine-cent uptick.

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“For consumers, the questions is how high are gas prices going to go in 2018,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “Since 2014, gas prices decreased as much as 20 cents in the first three weeks of the year. This year, gas prices are five cents more than on Jan. 1 of this year, a possible indication that prices in 2018 will likely be more expensive than last year.”

Today, motorists can find gas for $2.50 or less at 58% of gas stations nationwide, AAA reported.

“At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI dropped 58 cents to settle at $63.37,” AAA reported.

Oil prices dipped after EIA’s latest petroleum revealed domestic crude production in the U.S. continues to grow. Over the past week U.S. crude production increased by 258,000 b/d to 9.750 million b/d. While market watchers search for indications that global crude growth is slowing, the U.S. is not inline with the trend. U.S. producers are using higher petroleum prices to grow global market share, which AAA pointed out is evidenced by crude exports growing to 1.25 million b/d last week.

“That figure is up from the rate last year at this time, which stood at 704,000 b/d. This growth potentially stalls efforts by OPEC and major crude producers to rebalance the market (by cutting production through the end of 2018). However, market observers who are looking for indications that the crude market may tighten in the coming months were glad to see the number of active oil rigs in the U.S. declined by five last week. The total number of rigs now stands at 747,” AAA noted.