Gas prices should decline in January but expect volatility

Gas prices in Ohio are significantly higher right now than last year, but experts expect at least some relief soon as the holiday driving season ends.

The average price in Ohio increased to $2.64 for a gallon of gas from a year ago when it averaged $1.93, according to data provided by Cindy Antrican, public affairs manager for AAA Miami Valley.

“The majority of states saw gas prices increase in the last week — some by as much as a nickel to a dime, but any spikes in gas prices that motorists are seeing will be short-lived,” Antrican said. “AAA expects gas prices to decrease following the holidays.”

Ohioans paid more than the 2019 national gas price average, which was $2.58 per gallon, according to AAA.

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Ohio’s gas tax was increased by 10.5 cents per gallon on July 1 after the state legislature voted to raise more money for construction, reconstruction, maintenance, and repair of public highways and bridges.

Retailers have the choice of passing on the cost of the tax to consumers and, to the extent that they did, Antrican said the higher taxes are reflected in the prices recorded by AAA.

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AAA’s winter outlook for the Great Lakes and Central States, including Ohio, says the “region is no stranger to volatility at the pump and this winter will not be any different.”

“AAA forecasts gas prices to edge cheaper by as much as a dime throughout the Great Lakes and Central region, but warns motorists to expect the normal price fluctuation — potentially large swings — from week to week,” according to a news release from Jeanette Casselano, spokeswoman for National AAA.

GasBuddy predicts that the national average annual gas price is likely to decline slightly in 2020, but said that doesn’t mean motorists are safe from regional price spikes.

“Hit the road, America! It will be another year where gasoline prices will be relatively affordable — but don’t close your eyes — the price variation between stations and states will approach record levels,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for the Boston-based tech company that monitors fuel prices.

On Wednesday GasBuddy released its annual Fuel Price outlook, predicting that gasoline will average $2.60 per gallon in 2020.

Gas is much cheaper than in 2012, when the price on Jan. 11 of that year was $3.60 per gallon, according to a GasBuddy outlook chart that lists prices on certain dates in late December or early January of each year since 2012.

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Prices headed downward from there, hitting a low of $2.12 per gallon on Jan. 6, 2016, and then rising each year until January 2, 2019, when the national average cost of a gallon of gas dropped to $2.62, according to GasBuddy.

Casselano said higher prices for crude oil are also likely to have an impact in 2020 after OPEC and other global oil producers decided in December to cut total crude production. A barrel of crude oil ranged from $44 to $52 per gallon last winter, but she said prices could climb to more than $60 per barrel this winter.

“The reduction in global crude supply is expected to help drain the market, which will likely be oversupplied during the first half of next year,” Casselano said in the news release. “This could potentially mean expensive crude oil and gas prices in January as compared to the start of recent years, assuming crude demand remains robust.”

Average gas price in Ohio 
Dec. 30, 2019$2.64
Dec. 29, 2019$2.65
Last week$2.55
Last month$2.53
Last year$1.93
Source: AAA Miami Valley

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