The U.S. national average for gas prices has beaten another record: highest average ever on Labor Day. The previous record, $3.69/gal in 2008, has been toppled, much to the chagrin of millions of travelling motorists this weekend.
It wasn't easy getting to the new record, it took Hurricane Isaac, a refinery fire in California, a pipeline leak in Wisconsin, and several refinery issues in the Great Lakes, and somehow renewed economic optimism, but we're here- at a new record.
While motorists may believe it could get worse, we at GasBuddy forecast for the national average to begin dropping in the weeks ahead. Will relief come overnight? If only I was so naive. With the conclusion of the holiday today, it's back to work and back to school- summer vacations are over. What's that mean for gas prices? It means declines are coming.
Demand weakens for gasoline after the summer driving season. We switch back to cheaper winter gasoline- a type of gasoline that doesn't have to meet stringent EPA standards due to ozone and higher temperatures. It's cheaper to produce. Not only that, but with Isaac nearly behind us, refineries in the Gulf will be resuming production, Gulf oil rigs will be populated with workers scrambling to let oil again flow through pipelines.
Relief may be noticeable by late-September or early October. In our January 2012 forecast, we expected the national average to be $3.76 in September, falling to $3.62 in October, $3.58 in November, and $3.54 in December. Not quite the relief some are looking for, but relief nonetheless, which is something many motorists can look forward to as we set a record high for today.