Gas Prices Defy Typical Pattern, Remaining High

photoThis is the time of year when gas prices normally start to go down but it’s not happening that way this time around.

“Motorists are paying more for gasoline than they did this time last year, following the upswing in prices at the pump since July 4,” said John B. Townsend, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic.  “The outlook for the next few weeks is grim in terms of costs at the self-serve kiosk.  Experts see prices rising through Labor Day, but they do not expect a big spike considering rising prices coincide with the end of the summer driving season.”

Townsend said this year is proving to be anything but typical.

“This is typically a time when gas expenditures start a downward trend, as long driving vacations decrease and kids are back in school, however recent trends have been anything but typical so it may very well be a wait and see as autumn approaches,” he said.

CURRENT AND PAST GAS PRICE AVERAGES

Regular Unleaded Gasoline (*indicates record high)

 

 

8/19/12

Week Ago

Year Ago

National

$3.72

$3.69

$3.59

Washington, DC

$3.92

$3.98

$3.84

DC Only

$3.93

$3.98

$3.84

DC Metro

$3.71

$3.69

$3.59

Crude Oil

$96.01 per barrel (at Friday’s close)

$92.87 per barrel

$87.58 per barrel

Gas prices across the country continue to climb above year-ago prices, a trend which began last week after more than 100 days of holding below 2011 prices.  The national average price for a gallon of regular self-serve gasoline rose to $3.72 on Friday.  This price is 5 cents more expensive than one week ago and 29 cents more expensive than one month ago.  Today’s price is 14 cents more expensive than the same day last year.

While the national price at the pump continues to rise, it remains 22 cents below the yearly peak price for 2012 of $3.94 on April 5 and 39 cents below the all-time high of $4.11 on July 17, 2008.  Friday’s national average of $3.72 per gallon is 3 cents shy of the record high for the day (8/17) of $3.75 per gallon set on 2008.  It is likely that, as soon as this weekend, the daily price will be the highest ever for that calendar day.

Costliest year ever

Despite recent increases in prices at the pump, motorists may feel they are paying less for gasoline this year than they did in 2011 (the highest year on record).  However, this may not be the case at all.  Analysts believe the summer’s gas price increases, a trend not typically seen during the latter part of the summer driving season, could put us on course to pay more in 2012.

This would make 2012 the costliest year ever at the gas pump.

Back in June, prices were dropping steadily, leading some analysts to say prices would be at $3.00 per gallon by the fall.  Now some are saying prices could top $4.00 in some areas before dropping in the fall.  Whatever the case, most economists agree that if gas prices continue to keep climbing, it could slow down the rebound in consumer spending.

 

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Truman Lewis
A former reporter and bureau chief, Truman Lewis has covered presidential campaigns, state politics and stories ranging from organized crime to environmental and consumer protection.