If you think you’ve seen the last of $4-a-gallon gas, brace yourself for disappointment. The national average will likely climb back above $4 by the spring, according to one expert — even as current prices could dip below $3 a gallon for the first time in 20 months.
Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, told CNN on Dec. 27 that the national average for a gallon of gas could push above $4 mark as soon as May. That’s when Americans will next hit the road in large numbers and refineries switch over to more expensive summer-grade gasoline.
“2023 is not going to be a cakewalk for motorists. It could be expensive,” De Haan said. “The national average could breach $4 a gallon as early as May — and that’s something that could last through much of the summer driving season.”
For that to happen, prices at the pump would need to climb by nearly a dollar from current levels. The national average for gasoline stood at $3.104 a gallon as of Dec. 27, according to AAA. That’s down from $3.555 a month prior and $3.286 a year prior. Prices have fallen by nearly 40% since hitting an all-time high of $5.016 on June 14.
If prices keep falling and plunge below $3 a gallon, it would be the first time since April 2021, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
It’s also been quite a while since prices were above $4 a gallon. That last happened on Aug. 10, Reuters reported. On Aug. 11, the price dipped to $3.990 a gallon and it hasn’t touched $4 since then.
GasBuddy forecasts that the daily national average will peak at $4.25 a gallon in August 2023 before dipping back toward $3 a gallon by the end of the year. Even if that happens, you should still pay a lot less to fuel up in 2023 than you did this year. GasBuddy projects that the national average for regular gas will fall to $3.49 a gallon next year, down from about $4 in 2022.
The upshot is that families will likely spend an average of $277 less on fuel in 2023 than they did in 2022 — a total decline of about $55 billion nationwide.
Don’t pocket that money just yet, though. As recent history as shown, gas prices can shift quickly. One reason gas prices spiked during the first half of 2022 was Russia’s unexpected invasion of Ukraine. Prices were also impacted by COVID-19 lockdowns in China, recession fears, and rising interest rates.
“Basically, curveballs coming from every direction,” De Haan said. “I don’t think we’ve ever seen such an amount of volatility as we saw this year.”
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