It paid to fill up the gas tank Wednesday morning, when the price at Murphy’s Express on Eisenhower Drive in Biloxi was $2.05 a gallon, because by lunch the cost was $2.12, an increase of 7 cents a gallon. It increased a penny more in the afternoon.
On just the fourth day of the year, South Mississippi drivers are already paying more than the highest price per gallon in 2016, which was $2.09 for two weeks in June and the last week of December. The lowest price on the Coast last year was $1.50, on Feb. 15.
AAA said these are the highest New Year’s gas prices since 2014.
“The national average has moved higher for 34 of the past 35 days, largely due to market reactions to last fall’s OPEC deal,” AAA said in a press release Monday. On Wednesday, the national average was $2.35; in South Mississippi it was $2.15. That is one of the lowest prices in the country but still 31 cents higher than a year ago.
Analysts for GasBuddy’s 2017 Fuel Price Outlook forecast Wednesday motorists will spend $52 billion more at the pump in 2017 and $3-a-gallon prices or higher are likely returning to Los Angeles, New York, Chicago, Seattle, Washington, D.C., and other large metro areas.
“The list of factors being mixed into the yearly forecast has never been larger,” said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy. “This year will see a new administration take over, perhaps the most oil-friendly in some time, and with so many unknowns in regards to policy changes, we’ll be keeping a keen eye on such, along with taxation changes. But forecasting fuel prices, especially this year, remains a challenging balance of science and art.”