With gas prices still on the decline here in early 2015, consumers continue to hit the pump without dishing out much damage on their bank accounts, but is this an economic trip to utopia? Or will it be one that is ultimately short lived?
According to GasBuddy.com, who recently released its fuel price outlook for 2015, the prices consumers have seen in recent months may be the start of a new ongoing trend for gas rates in the future.
Looking at the data inside the report, the website's forecast for the national average price per gallon of gasoline in 2015 will be somewhere around the $2.64 area. The national average high sits at $3.00 in May, and the low at $2.36 here in January.
The reason for the higher price in May is because of the refinery maintenance season, and also a shift back to the EPA mandated "summer blend" gasoline which is a cleaner burning gasoline that usually culminates an increase of 35-75 cents per gallon.
In Texas alone, the current state average has fallen 6.8 cents in the past week and currently sits at $1.97/gal, or 112 cents cheaper per gallon than on this day one year ago.
"As we've welcomed in the the new year, gas price shave stayed at their bargain basement levels in most states, with just a few seeing minor gas tax increases," said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst with GasBuddy. "2015 will be a far better year at the pump than what we saw in 2014, and motorists will fare substantially better, shelling out $96 billion less this year at the gas pump with motorists in most states seeing far more $2 gas than $3 gas."
Even though gas prices are expected to be cheaper in 2015, there are several factors that could alter prices, including:
What will OPEC do?
With OPEC's (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) shift in attitude in the last few months, cutting oil prices and seeking to regain market share, some are asking just how long the organization will continue this mentality. Should the attitude change course and reverse towards a desire of higher oil prices, prices could be dramatically different.
The U.S. escaped being hit by a major hurricane last year, but hurricane season has brought significant harm to oil infrastructure in the last decade, and while hurricanes are not guaranteed to hit oil facilities, it has the power to drive gasoline and other refined product prices.
Gasoline taxes are being reevaluated
Several states are taking a look at gas taxes, and even the federal government may increase taxes on gasoline, something that hasn't been done in more than 20 years. Several states have already raised prices with the New Year, and several others have started to realize it is a good way to fund road repairs. Any new taxes will push prices higher than expected.