Cheap gas ending as forecast calls for average to hit $3 in Palm Beach Co.

Gasoline prices are on the rise and expected to peak at $3 to $3.35 a gallon this spring.

Gasoline prices are on the rise and expected to peak at $3 to $3.35 a gallon this spring.

Say goodbye to cheap gasoline and hello to $3 a gallon for regular gasoline in Palm Beach County this spring.

GasBuddy forecasts that 2017 will bring the highest gas prices in three years. Motorists will shell out $53 billion more over the course of the year compared to 2016, as the national yearly average rises to $2.49 a gallon. In 2016 it was a mere $2.13 a gallon.

For Palm Beach County, which almost always has the state’s highest prices, and the rest of the nation,  gas prices are forecast to  reach a peak in May.

“For Palm Beach County, it would be reasonable to expect prices to peak in May between a range of $3 to $3.35 a gallon,” GasBuddy senior petroleum analyst Gregg Laskoski said. “Summer will be fairly high, and when we get into the fourth quarter, we expect prices to decline, which is pretty much what we see every day.”

Thursday, Palm Beach County’s average was $2.52 a gallon for regular, up from $2.30 a month ago. That’s well above Florida’s $2.41 average and the nation’s $2.35, according to AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report.

AAA has forecast that Florida’s 2017 average will range from $2.25 to $2.75, AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins said Thursday. Some metro areas are likely to have stations selling gas above $3 a gallon.

The seasonal switch from winter-blend to summer blend fuels as mandated by EPA and the Clean Air Act will bring a spike at the pump later this spring, GasBuddy said.

Crude oil and gasoline prices have been pushed up in recent weeks following an announcement by OPEC and non-OPEC countries that they will cut back oil production by 1.8 million barrels a day this year.

“While gasoline prices nearly always follow the same direction as crude oil and represent an important barometer for consumers and their personal  budgets, the increases we anticipate this year may be met with less resistance than in the past if economic improvement softens the blow,” Laskoski said.

“If the Trump Administration delivers on its promises; lower taxes, more jobs, higher salaries and savings, then….then a concurrent increase in demand and gasoline prices may be easier to digest,” Laskoski said.

Of course, as with any forecast, there’s a lot of room for error. Additional components that have the potential to weigh on retail gasoline prices include federal and/or state tax changes, Middle East volatility, currency fluctuations, refinery maintenance and/or unscheduled outages, weather events and shipping/transportation snafus, GasBuddy said.

Now for the lingering question. Why are Palm Beach County’s gas prices the state’s highest? Thursday, that held true, as the county’s $2.52 average surpassed the next highest, Broward County,  by 5 cents.

A number of factors are blamed for Palm Beach County’s high gas prices, including its distance from Port Everglades in Hollywood and the Port of Tampa, where gasoline is delivered on tanker ships.  Also coming into play are highest allowable gasoline taxes, stations charging what the market will bear and strict zoning that limits the number of gas stations in some areas.

To read more about why prices are even higher in cities such as Jupiter, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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