(NEXSTAR) — GasBuddy, a company that closely tracks gas prices around the country, has released its forecast for 2022 and we’ve got some bad news for you. Gas prices are once expected to rise and could reach $4 per gallon nationwide by spring.
To put that in perspective, the national average is about $3.28 at the end of December 2021.
Continued economic recovery (even amidst the current omicron spike) will continue to drive demand for gas up in the first half of 2022, GasBuddy expects. Oil supply is also increasing, but it may take a while before it gets fully up to speed with demand, according to the company’s analysis. That’s why we’ll be seeing rising gas prices through May or June before they start to come back down again.
The national average is expected to reach its lowest point next year in December at around $3.01 per gallon.
“While we are likely to eventually see relief at the pump as the year wears on, we likely will experience more pain at the pump than what we saw in 2021, with the national average potentially reaching $4/gal for just the second time in history and the first time in over a decade,” said Patrick De Haan, GasBuddy’s head of petroleum analysis, in the report.
GasBuddy predicts prices will top out around $4 per gallon for most major cities in the early summer, while cities like Sacramento and San Francisco could see prices climb past $5.
Here’s how the gas price forecast breaks down month by month. For each month, there’s a range of possibilities for the national average:
January: $3.11 – $3.42February: $3.02 – $3.35March: $3.29 – $3.63April: $3.41 – $3.87May: $3.52 – $4.06June: $3.43 – $4.13July: $3.38 – $3.96August: $3.31 – $3.82September: $3.09 – $3.52October: $2.96 – $3.35November: $2.87 – $3.24December: $2.82 – $3.19
The numbers above are the forecast for the national average, but prices will vary between states. In California, for example, prices are usually substantially higher than the national average. In states like Texas and Oklahoma, GasBuddy finds prices are typically lower.
Forecasting is especially challenging amid the pandemic, as supply disruptions pop up and demand fluctuates based on travel restrictions. Severe weather, like hurricanes, can also disrupt refineries and make gas prices unpredictable.
“2022 may be filled with curveballs and new challenges as motorists see their annual fuel expenses rise yet again, but there is some measure of relief that we will see,” said De Haan. “Until then, motorists will be forced to chalk up more of their hard-earned money to keep up with their insatiable thirst for gasoline.”