That was quick. December gas prices are off to a roaring start on news that the organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is going to cut global oil output.
The average price for a gallon of regular unleaded rose 3 cents overnight in Florida to $2.15, AAA said Thursday. Palm Beach County’s average jumped 2 cents overnight to $2.28, according to AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report.
Pump prices are climbing in response to OPEC ’s announcement that it would cut crude oil production by 1.2 million barrels, in an attempt to reduce global glut and raise oil prices.
Crude prices rose more than $4 a barrel, following the announcement on Wednesday. Oil is currently trading above $50 – the highest in more than a month.
Rising oil prices makes the cost of producing gasoline that much higher, so gas prices climb, too. Wholesale gasoline rose 10 cents yesterday, making it more expensive for retailers to purchase gasoline; a higher cost that is typically passed along to the consumer, AAA said.
“We usually see declining gas prices in December because of low demand, but this year prices should be more volatile,” said AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins said.
Traditionally, December lower gas prices. Pump prices for the 12th month delivered discounts four out of the last five years. Prices declined a total of 6 cents in December 2015. December 2014 saw prices decline a whopping 41 cents, as oil prices tanked from $69 a barrel to $53 and haven’t returned since.
Not so this time around, so far.
“The market is currently buying-in on the OPEC news, which could cause gas prices to jump 10-15 cents in the next week and a half,” Jenkins said. “How long this trend continues will depend on where oil prices go from here. Some analysts believe higher prices will be difficult to sustain, as non-OPEC countries may be enticed to cash-in by ramping up production, thus leading to even more glut, and sending prices lower as a result.”
The turnaround is gasoline prices is an abrupt one.
Just a week ago, a number of stations in Palm Beach County were selling gasoline at $1.99 for regular at the cash price ahead of the Thanksgiving travel holiday. Motorists could find gas prices below $2 a gallon at 28 percent of gas stations in Florida, with more joining the trend at the start of this week.
At the time, gasoline prices were on a steady, month-long decline, falling 4 cents to $2.27 a gallon on Nov. 22, down from $2.31 the week before. Florida’s average was down that day 5 cents, to $2.10 from $2.15, also from the week before, according to AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report.
So as 43.5 million Americans prepared to hit the road for Thanksgiving last week, GasBuddy projected fuel savings of nearly $2 billion.
In fact, motorists’ biggest fear at the time: Sitting in traffic; that’s followed by not knowing where the next restroom is, and running out of gas.
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