Gas prices to kick off 2018 are the highest they’ve been to start the year in four years, the American Automobile Association says.
According to AAA, the average fill-up in Naples was $2.46 per gallon on Wednesday, while in Lee County the average ran $2.41 per gallon. Statewide, the average fuel price was $2.45, below the national average of $2.49 on Wednesday.
Analysts blame the higher prices at the pump – statewide fuel prices have moved up eight cents in a week – on high demand combined with rising oil prices. Crude oil hit $60 a barrel on Friday, the last trading day of 2017, a two-year high.
But prices are expected to drop as they usually do in the winter months, as demand typically hits its low points.
“After a quick jump at the pump last week, prices are relatively stable right now across the southeastern U.S., and should begin to take a downward turn soon,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Gas prices normally decline during January and February, as gasoline demand hits the lowest levels of the year. The pump-price plunge has faced resistance from oil prices which have been trading at 2-year highs. Oil analysts believe the oil market is somewhat inflated due to geopolitical tensions and supply concerns, but prices should decline soon.”
Drivers have been spoiled by lower gas prices over the last few years – 2017’s average fuel price nationwide was $2.39 per gallon, well below the $3.34 annual average in 2014 – but analysts are warning that prices will be higher in 2018.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, 2018’s annual average fuel price is expected to be $2.51 per gallon, 12 cents higher than 2017, while also calling for an average crude oil price of $52.77 per barrel.
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