Gas prices in 2014: more relief at the pump?

Gas prices averaged $3.49 per gallon in 2013, down about 12 cents from the record-high price in 2012. What's the outlook for gas prices in 2014?

Mario Anzuoni/Reuters/File
Gasoline drips off a nozzle during refueling at a gas station in Altadena, Calif. Fear of potentially higher gas prices is shaping an intensifying debate about lifting the ban on US crude oil exports.

As Americans enjoyed the cheapest average gas prices last year since 2010, the prognosis is that prices at the pump will decrease further or remain flat for 2014 and beyond.

According to AAA’s year-end report, American drivers paid $3.49 per gallon of regular, on average for 2013, down about 12 cents from the record-high price in 2012 and slightly less than in 2011.

Throughout 2013, we saw a steady fall in prices with the exception of the fourth quarter, when prices rose in accordance with an economic rebound and increased driving. 

The overall drop in average prices at the pump is attributed to colder weather, reduced driving, peak processing at refineries and larger gas inventories.(Related article: US Gas Prices Down on High Supply, Lower Demand)

GasBuddy.com, which reports local US gas prices  and national averages, is predicting that prices at the pump will be lower in 2014, but still volatile.

The website predicts the national average for 2014 will be just below $3.40 per gallon — the lowest average since 2010, due to increased domestic shale oil production and a federal policy prohibiting the export of oil.

In the meantime, while the oil industry in the US is trying to convince the public that it could push gas prices down further if the ban on most crude exports was lifted, shows that Americans remained concerned that the reverse would be true.

Fear of potentially higher gas prices is shaping an intensifying debate about lifting the ban on US crude oil exports. The US banned most oil exports after the Arab oil embargo of the 1970s. (Related article: Why are Gas Prices Falling, and How Long will the Trend Last?)

While the Reuters poll found that on the topic of allowing crude oil exports, American voters are evenly divided—until gas prices are worked into the equation.

The poll showed a large majority would oppose crude exports if they thought it would translate into higher prices at the gas pump, while a majority also thought gas exports should be restricted.

Related article: http://oilprice.com/Energy/Gas-Prices/Prices-at-the-US-Pump-Expected-to-Stay-Flat.html

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