Despite a series of price drops as 2011 drew to a close, analysts are warning that gasoline could reach record highs during 2012.
GasBuddy.com Senior Petroleum Analyst Gregg Laskoski said consumers need to realize that current prices are still more than 20 cents higher than they were last January, and prices typically increase as the year unfolds.
“As 2011 has come to a close, that’s cause for concern,” Laskoski said. “Why? For the past seven years, the average price movement from the beginning of the year to the peak price posted during the year has been $0.93 cents per gallon, and as high as $1.31 per gallon.”
He said last year was “a good snapshot” of what has happened over the past seven years.
“2010 ended with the national average at $3.05 and we saw the annual spring 2011 climb push the national average 91 cents higher to its peak level as early as May 11 when it reached $3.96 per gallon,” Laskoski said.
Bellaire’s average “start price” to peak retail gasoline prices for the past five years was as follows:
Start Price: $2.15/g on 1/1/2007
Peak Price: $3.02/g on 5/22/2007
Difference: 87.4 cents per gallon
Start Price: $2.88/g on 1/1/2008
Peak Price: $3.94/g on 7/16/2008
Difference: 106.5 cents per gallon
Start Price: $1.41/g on 1/1/2009
Peak Price: $2.52/g on 10/30/2009
Difference: 110.9 cents per gallon
Start Price: $2.46/g on 1/1/2010
Peak Price: $2.88/g on 12/29/2010
Difference: 42.1 cents per gallon
Start Price: $2.88/g on 1/1/2011
Peak Price: $3.90/g on 5/11/2011
Difference: 102.1 cents per gallon
Petroleum analyst Patrick DeHaan warned that Bellaire residents could be looking at $4 per gallon gasoline by spring.
“In three of the last seven years, the spread between the yearly starting price and the peak exceeded $1 per gallon and only once in the past seven years was the spread below .82 cents per gallon. And, while we typically anticipate ‘peak’ prices to occur in the midst of the summer driving season, sometimes the peak can even come after summer has concluded, as was the case nationally during 2006 and 2009,” DeHaan said. “While past performance is no indication of future prices, if the national average doesn’t move closer toward or under $3 per gallon by the year’s end, we could be paying over $4 per gallon next spring.”