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Gas prices could hit $4 per gallon by summer

Published 10:02pm Tuesday, January 3, 2012

The U.S. average price of gasoline Tuesday, $3.26 per gallon, has declined significantly in recent months but still remains 21.3 cents per gallon higher than the U.S. average price recorded last year at this time.

“As 2011 has come to a close, that’s cause for concern,” says Gregg Laskoski, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com. “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 93 cents per gallon and as high as $1.31 per gallon.

“Last year was actually a good snapshot of what we’ve seen for 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.
Michigan average “start price” to peak retail gasoline prices:

“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. 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,” said Patrick DeHaan, another GasBuddy petroleum analyst.

Michigan average start to peak prices

2007

Start price: $2.21 per gallon on Jan. 1

Peak price: $3.57 per gallon on May 23

Difference: 135.8 cents per gallon

2008

Start price: $3.08 per gallon on Jan. 1

Peak price: $4.21 per gallon on July 16

Difference: 112.7 cents per gallon

2009

Start price: $1.71 per gallon on Jan. 1

Peak price: $2.94 per galllon on June 5

Difference: 122.7 cents per gallon

2010

Start price: $2.67 per gallon on Jan. 1

Peak price: $3.16 per gallon on Dec. 28

Difference: 48.9 cents per gallon

2011

Start price: $3.12 per gallon on Jan. 1

Peak price: $4.25 per gallon on May 3

Difference: 113.0 cents per gallon

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