AAA: Expect relief at the gas pump in ‘13

Published 7:38 pm Thursday, January 10, 2013

There could be more relief seen at the gas pump as AAA is predicting lower gas prices in 2013.

AAA officials say the decrease is a result of increased domestic oil production and lower demand.

The national average price of gasoline should peak at $3.60-$3.80 per gallon barring any significant unanticipated events, which compares to a peak of $3.94 a gallon in 2012.  The Alabama average is expected to peak in the $3.50 – $3.70 per gallon range.

“Cheaper gas prices are good news for the millions of Americans that depend on their cars to travel where they need to go,” said Clay Ingram, AAA Alabama spokesperson. “Lower gasoline prices should translate into billions of dollars in tangible household savings given that the vast majority of Americans rely on automobiles to live their lives.”

Ingram said although gasoline prices usually drop slightly during January and February, it is possible for prices to rise steadily through April or early May, but at a slower pace than last year.

As is typical for this time of year, prices will rise as a result of seasonal demand increases and in anticipation of the switchover to more expensive summer-blend gasoline. Following a late-spring peak, the national average price should drop during the first half of the summer to as low as $3.20-$3.40 per gallon before rising again in advance of the Gulf Coast hurricane season and the switchover to winter-blend gasoline. Prices should end the year by falling to low or near-low averages for 2013.

“Absent significant storms, major wars or production and distribution outages, the single largest factor that will influence gasoline prices in 2013 will be the strength of the U.S. economy,” Ingram said. “Stronger than expected growth in the economy would result in higher oil and gasoline prices in anticipation of higher consumption, while a weaker than expected economy would drive prices downwards. Inaction by Congress to reach a debt deal in two months also would result in increased concern about the U.S. economy and could lead to lower gasoline prices.”

Locally, gas prices range from $3.19 to $3.29 for regular unleaded.

That’s in line with the state average of $3.23 per gallon, which is 4 cents less than last year and 4 cents less than a month ago.

Gasoline prices in 2012 reached record highs.