GasBuddy’s Year in Review | Gas prices explained

2013 saw the annual spring ‘run up’ get an early start around Jan 21. Refineries began their annual maintenance checks and, concurrently, the national retail average at $3.25 per gallon around Jan 21 climbed steadily to $3.74 by Feb. 27. There's 10 eye-opening facts about gasoline prices in 2013 that motorists should see.

Again in May we saw refinery issues trigger another aggressive climb. Refinery issues on the West Coast and in the Great Lakes region especially propelled the national average from $3.49 around May 4 to $3.68 by May 21.

July delivered yet another hike and this time it was caused by the Lac Megantic, Quebec train disaster when 72 rail cars on the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway derailed there, leaving a wake of death and destruction. Crude oil prices climbed; gasoline inventory declined and the trend continued with political unrest in Egypt creating concerns about the Suez Canal shipping lanes. The national average price of gas- $3.49 on July 6- spiked to $3.68 by July 19. Following the horrific train crash in Quebec (July 6th) and the international debate over Syria, we saw crude oil prices spike in both instances and retail gas prices followed the same course.

If we had asked you last spring to predict which U.S. city would see the highest average price in the country during 2013, (it soared to $4.47 in June) most of you would probably have guessed Los Angeles, San Francisco or maybe New York...

But it was Chicago and that was due to a confluence of refinery problems that plagued the
Midwest. By June, at one point Milwaukee’s average price of gas was higher than Los Angeles. That’s a rarity we’re not likely to see any time soon. The map below shows the largest single day price increases in 2013, and not surprisingly, all the largest jumps occurred in the Midwest.

Still, it’s important to note the positives. All of the weather experts predicted considerably more hurricane activity in 2013, and instead, we saw one of the quietest years on record. That was a blessing because Sandy showed us in 2012 the havoc that one storm can deliver.

2013 also saw tremendous investment in ‘midstream’ infrastructure, the rail and pipelines necessary to bring more oil & gasoline from robust U.S. energy regions. It’s because of the energy growth; access to cheaper Canadian crudes and long-term fuel conservation trends that we expect 2014 to be a better year.

Americans spent, on average, $3.60 per gallon in 2012; $3.49 in 2013 and we’re projecting that total will be reduced to $3.39 for 2013… Barring the unforeseeable, we’re confident we’ll all pay slightly less overall.

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