Some highlights from GasBuddy’s 2018 Fuel Price Outlook include:
• The nation’s yearly gasoline bill will rise to $364.6 billion dollars, some $25 billion higher than what motorists spent last year as the average household sees their yearly gasoline bill rise to $1,898, up from $1,765 in 2017. Compared to 2016, motorists will be shelling out $62 billion more during the year, enough to buy a fleet of 670 Boeing 737s.
• GasBuddy’s forecast does not expect any record-breaking prices to be set in 2018, and most of the country will see prices peak under $3 per gallon, but unexpected disruptions could push the national average close to $3.
• Metro areas including Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Sacramento, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington D.C. will likely see prices eclipse $3 per gallon. Cities such as Cleveland, Detroit, Miami, Minneapolis, Orlando, St. Louis and Tampa may get within arm’s reach of such prices.
• How accurate have past forecasts been? In 2017, the forecast called for a yearly national average of $2.49. Actual: $2.39. In 2016, the forecast called for a yearly national average of $2.28. Actual: $2.12.
“Many will be quick to ask why we’re expecting higher prices. 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. Yet, understanding many factors, including OPEC, fuel taxes, the economy and their impact on supply and demand is integral to providing a thorough and balanced outlook on gas prices for 2018,” said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy.
“Even one event can completely change trajectory of fuel prices for months. Look what impact Hurricane Harvey and Irma had on gas prices and availability. No one could have expected the unexpected, but still, our forecast was less than a dime away from being spot on.
“While gasoline prices overall remain affordable, one aspect that continues to worsen is the gap between what stations are charging. 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.
More locally, AAA agrees with the predictions and said drivers are already seeing a small spike in prices.
Northeast Ohio gas prices
Northeast Ohio gas prices increased by three cents this week to $2.432 per gallon, according to AAA East Central’s Gas Price Report.
Across the Great Lakes and Central region, gas prices have increased as much as 10 cents on the week with four states landing on this week’s top 10 states with the largest increases, including Ohio (+10 cents). Compared to beginning of December, Ohio (+15 cents) is one of the only states where gas prices have increased more than 10 cents on the month.
With a 259,000 barrel build, gasoline inventory sits at 48.1 million barrels, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA) (week ending Dec. 22). The last time the region had inventory under 50 million barrels was at the end of the year was in 2010.
This week’s average prices for northeast Ohio: $2.432
Average price during the week of Dec. 26: $2.400
Average price during the week of Jan. 3: $2.306
Average prices of the unleaded self-service gasoline in various areas:
$2.427 New Philadelphia