Consumers may finally see some good news at the gas pump.
After several years of seeing average prices steadily climb, forecasters predict this year’s average will fall by about 10 cents per gallon from 2013’s average.
Gas prices are inherently volatile because they are dependent on so many varying and complex factors – both global and local, according to Patrick DeHaan of Gas Buddy, an organization that tracks and predicts gas prices.
Anything from political coups to refinery problems to severe weather can affect that final price at the pump.
While these risks will still be present and there will likely still be the typical swings in prices, DeHaan predicts that gas prices still decrease.
“2014 projects to be a year that will find more consistent downward pressure on U.S. prices than in any year since the Great Recession,” said DeHaan recently on gasbuddy.com.
He said the U.S. can thank its shale oil boom and growth in Canadian oil sands for insulating the country from spikes in crude oil costs.
“U.S. crude production has advanced to its highest levels since 1989, and imports of all foreign crude look to continue to drift lower,” said DeHaan.
He reiterated, though, that the country will still likely see dramatic price spikes and plunges.
“The likelihood of a late first-quarter 2014 rally in prices from winter lows remains quite high,” said DeHaan. “Factors that contribute to a seasonal gasoline rally haven’t changed. February through April tends to see plenty of refinery maintenance ahead of the so-called driving season.”
He said it was unlikely there would be a major increase in fuel consumption, though, despite any possible signs of improvement to the economy.
“Demand faces considerable headwinds,” said DeHaan. U.S. drivers are aging, and the fastest-growing demographic group includes those over the age of 55 and represents people who will drive less and less.”