Prepare to pay more at the pump in 2017. According to fuel tracker GasBuddy, the average price of gas this year will be roughly $2.49/gallon for regular unleaded.
That’s compared to $2.13/gallon in 2016.
Patrick DeHaan, GasBuddy’s Senior Petroleum Analyst, said American drivers will collectively spend about $52-billion more on gas this year.
"All that adds up," DeHaan said. "It's certainly not chump change."
DeHaan said the main driver behind the rising prices is a November decision by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to reduce oil production, and the group’s subsequent success in persuading Russia, along with other major oil producers, to follow suit.
“It’s all about supply and demand,” DeHaan said. “Less supply is going to mean higher oil prices.”
In the Milwaukee and Waukesha areas, the average price of gas Wednesday was $2.38/gallon, according to AAA.
The price, above the current national average of $2.35/gallon, is also 36 cents higher than on this same day in 2016.
Drivers like Jeff Wagoner said they’ve noticed the difference.
Wagoner drives a pickup truck to deliver newspapers each day. He fills it up once per week.
“A couple of months ago I was filling up for $30-$35, right now it’s costing me $40-$45,” Wagoner said. His truck holds 24 gallons of fuel.
Driver Alli Brezinski said she adjusts to the rising prices by cutting costs elsewhere.
“I usually get less groceries during the week, that kind of thing,” Brezinski said.
DeHaan said he expects the national average price of gas to peak at around $2.70/gallon during the month of May. In America's bigger cities, it's likely to hit $3.00.
The lowest prices at the pump should come in February.
DeHaan said such fluctuations are typical each year. Refineries often offer discounts to gas stations in February so they can drain their remaining, winter fuel supply.
In the spring, many refineries perform maintenance and switch to seasonal, warm weather gasoline formulas that can be more expensive.
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