You could be paying as much as $3 for a gallon of gas in 2018. Oil production and supply are partly to blame. But, in Indiana, refinery problems could also be adding to the reason you could be buying the most expensive gas since 2014.
“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,” said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at Gasbuddy.com.
“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,” he said.
While the national average could get as high as $2.57, according to the Gasbuddy forecast, it could get even higher in the Midwest, including Indiana.
“The Midwest tends to be one of the more volatile areas of the country when it comes to gas prices. I’m sure a lot of motorists here already realize that things can become very volatile, very quickly.”
One factor that has contributed to that volatility is refinery issues. Refinery maintenance and down time has already caused gas prices to jump several times in 2017.
“We’ve been having some refinery kinks and the extreme cold weather is also affecting refineries,” said DeHaan.
DeHaan said gas could get close to $3 in the spring, if refinery issues persist. He also said U.S. oil reserves went down by 54 million barrels in 2017, and that has caused prices to come up, as well.
“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 20-40 cents lower or higher than a nearby competitor,” said DeHaan.
“In addition to GasBuddy data showing spreads have risen to record levels, I’ve heard hundreds of complaints of motorists who get stuck at the pricier station, drive down the street and see it far cheaper. Always shop around when filling your tank. We spend thousands of dollars a year filling the tank, a dime or quarter per gallon adds up to hundreds of dollars,” he said.