New year will likely bring higher gas prices


Including the change in gas prices in Minnesota during the past week, prices Sunday were 38.2 cents per gallon higher compared to the same day one year ago and are 6.8 cents per gallon lower than a month ago.

Statewide, prices at the pump averaged $2.44 per gallon, 2 cents less than last week but 26 cents higher than this time past year.

Oil prices have given up some ground in the last few days but are still within close reach of multi-year highs and now stand at $57.61 per barrel as of Monday morning, down some 75 cents in early trading. "Oil prices are at their highest point of the year, preventing the typical seasonal plunge at the pump". "Driving factors for cheaper gas prices this winter include colder temperatures, the threat of inclement weather and online shopping".

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Michigan's lowest average price was about $2.33 per gallon in the Bay City, Midland and Saginaw areas.

The most expensive gas price averages in Georgia were in Savannah at $2.39 per gallon, Atlanta at $2.36 and Brunswick at $2.36.

Relief at the gas pump is on the way, but don't look for prices to plummet all at once. Manhattan remained the same at $2.45 per gallon while Emporia dropped seven cents, coming in at $2.29 his week.

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Gas prices faced upward pressure last week due to an Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries meeting and its impact on the oil market. At the close of Friday's formal trading session on the NYMEX, West Texas Intermediate crude had increased 96 cents to settle at $58.36. The group agreed to keep its production cuts in place until the end of 2018.

"With OPEC deciding last week to extend last year's agreement on oil production cuts, the future for gasoline prices isn't as rosy", DeHaan said. Nevertheless, federal data show domestic demand is lower, which has supported a slight drop in gas prices so far in December.

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IATA said the biggest challenge to profitability in 2018 would be rising costs linked to the higher oil prices and other factors. However, it remained a "tough business", with the industry being challenged by rising fuel, labour and infrastructure expenses.