GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - U.S. gas prices have spiked for six consecutive weeks, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
The U.S. national average is now sitting at about $2.37 for a gallon of regular unleaded. However, West Michigan drivers are seeing even higher prices at the pump.
That's right. DeHaan says relief at the pump may be in sight as early as next week.
"Gas prices have already been trickling lower. In fact, they stand about 8 cents lower than last week," said DeHaan.
In recent weeks gas prices increased and have remained elevated across the mid-West. DeHaan says drivers are 50 cents more a gallon than this time last year. That's about $6 more on each fill-up. Much of the increase can be attributed to an OPEC deal, in late November, to cut oil production.
"I think some $2 prices are mostly a thing of the past," says DeHaan. "I can't eliminate that one rogue station that will drop under $2 temporarily. That would obviously be a pretty big drop. But, I think that is still a possibility.
"But, in the longer term of, will prices ever be sustained under $2 a gallon. That is not looking likely just because of this major shift in OPEC policy."
So, what can drivers expect? According to DeHaan, a brief reprieve between now and mid-February and then a new normal.
"This is kind of the calm before the storm, if you will," he said. "By March, April and May, that is when refineries' maintenance season starts, we usually see gas prices jump occasionally during that time. And, of course we also switched to that more expensive blend of gasoline in the months ahead."
"So, come March, be buckled up," DeHaan warns. "We will probably see gas prices jumping and they could briefly hit $3 a gallon come April or May. But, then, by summer, I would expect gas prices to calm down in the upper $2 range - from $2.70 to $2.90 a gallon."
The recent increase in the state gas tax brings it to 26.3 cents per-gallon. That now gives Michigan the fifth highest gas tax in the nation.
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