AAA reports the average price of gas in Oregon last year was 14 cents higher than the previous record.
“2012 is the most expensive year ever for gas prices. The Oregon average for regular unleaded in 2012 is $3.81, 14 cents higher than the previous high of $3.67 in 2011. The national average price of regular unleaded in 2012 is $3.60, nine cents more expensive than the previous high of $3.51 in 2011.”
AAA Oregon/Idaho Public Affairs Director Marie Dodds says, “AAA expects gas prices in 2013 to average less than they did in 2012 as a result of increased domestic oil production and lower demand, barring unanticipated events. The national average price of gas may peak around $3.60 to $3.80 per gallon, while the Oregon average may peak in the $3.80 to $4.00 range.”
In 2012, the national average peaked at $3.94 a gallon on April 6. Oregon’s average peaked on June 1 at $4.27 a gallon, just shy of the record high of $4.29 set on July 3, 2008.
Gasoline prices in 2012 reached record highs partly as a result of unanticipated production disruptions from refinery fires, pipeline closures and major hurricanes. Oil prices also were higher as a result of tensions in the Middle East including new sanctions on Iran. These types of market-moving events are impossible to predict and any forecast on gasoline prices can change as a result of similar factors.
AAA projects gas prices will rise steadily through April or early May, but at a slower pace than last year. As is typical for this time of year, prices will rise as a result of seasonal demand increases and in anticipation of the switchover to more expensive and cleaner-burning summer-blend gasoline. Following a late-spring peak, prices nationally should drop during the first half of the summer to as low as $3.20 to $3.40 per gallon before rising again in advance of the Gulf Coast hurricane season and the switchover to winter-blend gasoline. Prices should end the year by falling to low or near-low averages for 2013.
“Absent significant storms, major wars, or production and distribution outages, the single largest factor that will influence gasoline prices in 2013 will be the strength of the U.S. economy,” adds Dodds. “Stronger than expected growth in the economy would result in higher oil and gasoline prices in anticipation of higher consumption, while a weaker than expected economy would drive prices downwards. Inaction by Congress to reach a debt deal in two months also would result in increased concern about the U.S. economy and could lead to lower gasoline prices.”