Houston Average Far Below Last Year
So far, 2013 has been kinder to drivers' wallets than 2012, but will the trend continue? That's the vexing question facing analysts as the summer driving season rapidly approaches. "The national average is down about 30 cents a gallon from where it was a year ago," says Gregg Laskoski, Senior Petroleum Analyst with GasBuddy. "Whether or not that kind of gap is going to remain consistent as we get deeper into the summer is anybody's call." In Houston, the gas picture has been even more positive this spring. GasBuddy has Houston's current average at $3.37 a gallon, nearly 40 cents less than a year ago at this time.
The stability of the international oil market has been the main force in keeping a lid on any price spikes this year, according to Laskoski. "The problems in Syria, the threat of nuclear missile testing by North Korea, the Boston Marathon bombings - none of those things have really had a significant impact on crude oil prices," he says. There also haven't been any major supply disruptions. "So far we've had pretty healthy supply, and the supply has outpaced consumer demand," says Laskoski. That demand is expected to increase around Memorial Day, which usually means a slight rise in prices during the early part of the summer.
Overall, Laskoski doesn't expect this summer's prices to approach last summer. "There could be a little bit of an uptick, but I don't think we'll see those extreme prices," he says. However, there is always a wild card factor, especially for cities like Houston. "We also have to watch now for the weather," says Laskoski. "We have to watch what happens with hurricane season."
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