Get ready for an unpleasant year at the gas pumps, petroleum industry analysts warned this week.
Nationally, gas prices are projected to increase in 2018 due to demand, exports and natural influences like the weather, according to GasBuddy, the website that tracks fuel prices and trends.
“You’re not going to see too many areas across the nation who will be spared from higher prices on fuel,” said GasBuddy Senior Petroleum Analyst Dan McTeague. “2017 was an active year, not just because of weather-induced shortages, but because of higher demand. That appears to be met with higher prices of fuel.”
In GasBuddy’s 2018 Fuel Price Outlook, released on Wednesday, most of the country will see prices peak under $3 per gallon this year. However, unexpected disruptions, like 2017’s Hurricane Harvey, could push the national average close to $3. GasBuddy’s yearly projections are historically close to the national average at the end of the year.
“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,”said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy, in a news release. “No one could have expected the unexpected, but still, our forecast was less than a dime away from being spot on.”
The national average of fuel cost topped off at $2.39 in 2017.
In Amarillo, prices rose 6 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $2.21 per gallon on Jan. 2, according to GasBuddy. Gas prices are up throughout the state; Lubbock’s average gas price is up almost 3.1 cents to $2.20 a gallon. The national average was also up over 3 cents, at $2.48 per gallon.
“It’s mostly a happy New Year, as gas prices remain in the low-to-mid $2 per gallon range, but it’s not quite as happy as could be, as it’s the priciest start to a New Year since 2014,” DeHaan said.
DeHaan suggested the nationwide cold snap is not the best way to start off the year for petroleum. He said the interest in heating oil, propane and other petroleum products has lead to a demanding beginning of the year.
The colder weather will affect all oil prices, said McTeague, but one type of fuel will likely see the highest increase in cost.
“Generally speaking, colder weather leads to higher diesel prices,” McTeague said.
Higher diesel prices could increase the cost of other things, like airplane flights and semi truck-transported goods, McTeague said.