BOSTON – As millions of Americans take to the road to celebrate the holidays, many are being forced to dig deeper in their wallets.
Nationally, gas prices have seen their largest December rise in six years and are likely to continue rising through the holidays as oil producing countries agreed to cut production, boosting oil and gasoline prices.
“When The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries announced production cuts Nov. 30, we knew we were likely to see gasoline prices rise almost immediately. There’s never a good time to see gas prices rise, but ahead of the holidays just seems like the worst,” said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy.
“Oil prices spiked after OPEC’s production cut agreement was announced, pushing gasoline prices higher in 41 states. At a time of year Americans are busy opening their wallets to shop for gifts, they’ll have to dig deeper to fill their tanks, too.”
Currently the national average for a gallon of gas is $2.25 and continuing to rise. Motorists watching expenses won’t like comparing prices to a year ago, when the national average fell to $1.99 per gallon with 69 percent of stations at $2 or less.
Over half of U.S. states have seen prices rise double digits in the last month, with some cities seeing even larger increases, making a tank of gas $5-$10 more expensive than just a month ago:
- Parkersburg, W.Va.: 36 cents
- Ashland, Ky.: 34 cent
- Steubenville, Ohio: 32 cents
- Huntington, W.Va.: 31 cents
- Champaign, Ill.: 31 cents
- Orlando, Fla.: 30 cents
- Tampa, Fla.: 27 cents
- Illinois: 22 cents
- Florida: 22 cents
- Indiana: 21 cents
- Michigan: 19 cents
- Ohio: 19 cents
- Oklahoma: 19 cents
- Wisconsin: 19 cents
In a sign of how far reaching the rising prices have been, Tuesday, Dec. 20 finds 86 percent of gas stations nationwide priced over $2 per gallon compared to 61 percent a month ago.
In 2014, gasoline prices plunged in December, ending over 50 cents a gallon lower than when the month started. Since 2011, gas prices have increased during December just once, in 2013, when the national average rose a nickel. The five-year average for the month is a decline of 12 cents.
While the rest of the year could bring more price increases, motorists are unlikely to see any return of record high prices any time soon, but they are likely to see their spending on gasoline rise by $120-$180 or more in 2017 due to less oil supply from oil producers, leading to higher oil prices affecting what they pay at the pump.
For a look at what lays ahead at the pump, GasBuddy will be releasing its Annual Fuel Outlook in January.