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NATIONAL REPORT -- Although several prognosticators predict 2014 will see lower gas prices than the year-ago period, motorists had little to celebrate on Jan. 1.
New Year's Day prices at the pump for a regular gallon of fuel averaged $3.32, according to AAA, the fifth consecutive year consumers paid more at the pump vs. the prior year, and the fourth consecutive year motorists suffered with a new record to start the year. The national average per regular gallon of gas was $3.07, $3.28 and $3.29 for 2011, 2012 and 2013 respectively.
Higher crude oil prices were to blame for higher prices at the pump. On Jan. 3, West Texas Intermediate crude oil prices spiked above $100 per barrel, the first time this threshold was reached in multiple months.
As of yesterday, the national average ticked up another cent to $3.33 per gallon, AAA reported. This is 5 cents more expensive than one week ago, 7 cents higher than one months and 4 cents higher year over year.
Despite higher early 2014 gas prices, AAA expects the average price to dip throughout the year. "AAA anticipates that prices will likely average less in 2014, especially as cars are made more fuel efficient and refineries expand production," Martha A. Meade, manager of public and government affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic, told the Augusta Free Press. "While there are several things working in favor of drivers this year, unforeseen events, such as an uprising in global tensions, are also a factor. There are no guarantees when it comes to gas prices, which underscores the need for our leaders to focus on a long-term energy strategy."
In 2013, consumers paid a nationwide average of $3.49 per gallon for regular gas.