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Gas prices reached record-high average in 2012

Drivers may find relief in 2013 as demand settles, but crude-oil prices remain high and unpredictable.

By Clifford Atiyeh Jan 14, 2013 6:40AM
Refinery outages and high crude-oil prices drove gasoline prices to a record average of $3.62 per gallon in 2012, despite some of the lowest demand in at least 30 years.

Last year, gasoline prices were nine cents higher than in 2011 and 35 cents higher than in 2008, the first year prices averaged more than $3, according to the Energy Information Administration.

It was the second year in a row that average gas prices stayed above $3 during every week. As of Sunday, only eight states posted average prices below $3 per gallon, according to AAA. Diesel reached a record average of $3.97 per gallon.

As usual, drivers in the Rockies and Gulf regions paid the least, at $3.61 and $3.48 per gallon, respectively. Drivers along the West and East Coasts saw an average of $3.98 and $3.70. Of 10 major cities ranked by the EIA, prices in San Francisco and Los Angeles fluctuated by at least $1.15 throughout the year, compared with 62 cents in Boston and New York.

The EIA blamed unexpected refinery outages -- on the West Coast during the winter and on the East Coast during fall -- along with routine shutdowns as refineries in the Midwest switched from winter- to summer-grade gasoline. Of course, superstorm Sandy wasn't any help, nor were new oil sanctions on Iran. Crude oil made up two-thirds of the price of gasoline, according to the EIA.

Several factors were promising, but did little to quell an overall volatile oil market. Crude-oil prices finished the year at less than $92 per barrel and reached more than $108 over the winter, but never came near July 2008 when prices surged to more than $145. Drivers also continued to cut their gasoline purchases. As of October, the latest data available, retail sales were down 44 percent since the same month in 1983.

According to AAA, gas prices should peak at lower levels this year -- up to $3.80 versus $3.94 in 2012, the association said -- if production continues and major storms pass over without serious damage.

Despite the positive implications, lower gasoline demand and fewer vehicle miles traveled have the federal government hot and bothered. Last week, the Government Accountability Office suggested implementing a mileage tax to cover a shortfall in highway funds and gas-tax revenues. For the time being, it's just talk.

[Source: EIA, AAA; Photo: AP/NBCNEews.com]

57Comments
Jan 14, 2013 10:02AM
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Hey no one makes more on a gallon of gasoline than the government.  They haul the stuff around for less than 2 cents per gallon yet we see prices differ as much as 50 cents per gallon in neighboring states.
Jan 14, 2013 9:50AM
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The Administration and Big Oil want America (USA) to pay the same as the rest of the World.  France gas is going for $7.92 a gallon and Spain $6.91 for regular.  One difference they pay about $3 to $4 a gallon in taxes, but they do have public transportation system, the US can only dream about.
Jan 14, 2013 9:49AM
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With the middle class getting smaller pay checks now. with higher taxes and health care cost soaring.  They will have less money to spend on themselves. The prices on everything keeps going up.  Obama's way of counting the cost of inflation is not going to cut it when people wise up as to what is he is doing to this country.
Jan 14, 2013 9:44AM
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LETS  SEE WHICH PARTY IS FOR BIG BUSINESS? The oil companies make billion dollar quarterly profits.Instead of passing the savings on to us ( the consumer) it goes into their pockets the one percentile..Absolutely digusting!
Jan 14, 2013 9:44AM
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As long as Obama & the Senate Democrats are in charge gas prices will never go down.  Obama want's gas at $6.00 - $7.00 gallon and so does Chu the head of the Dept. of Energy.  Obama is transforming this country into a 3rd wold nation.  Remember his "Transformation" speeches.  Rest asured he will destroy this country & turn it into a socialist wefare state. 
Jan 14, 2013 9:33AM
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Wall Street Greed is the reason why oil prices remain high. As long as these people are in control of oil prices, nothing will ever change and as long as they have our representatives in their back pocket, there is no hope that oil will go down to a level that it should be at. All they have done is to ruin our economy by pushing food prices and everything else higher. I hope that they get their just dessert someday.
Jan 14, 2013 9:31AM
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I find it interesting, any time gas prices go up and there is a Republican in the White House, he always gets the blame, but when a Democrat is in the White House, everything else is blamed.  Isn't this a campaign promise fulfilled?   Didn't Obama clearly state he would make energy prices "skyrocket"?  Didn't Obama appoint an Energy Secretary who has publicly talked about how $10 gas prices would be good for America?  Yet the media doesn't even go there.  No finger pointing at all.  And the media executives sit around the table wondering why the public doesn't trust them!!
Jan 14, 2013 9:24AM
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2013 will be a new record , its never going down...pointless story!
Jan 14, 2013 9:22AM
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So all you haters of Obama just shut the hell up and go back to sleep and take your blame directly to the refineries and speculators and wall street corruption and the Oil industries as a whole and know that it is all of them in this Free Market society that is causing your pain and disgust and will continue to do so unless We The People call for nationalization of the retail stations who price their gas much higher than demand and supply and react to the markets even though the gas they presently have in their tanks was purchased at a lower price and they raise those prices even though they have not sold out their supply. Pricing is a BUSINESS and when thieves can't charge you elsewhere they get you were they can charge you, and if you keep believing the lies being told to you everyday and you do nothing about it, then you deserve to be ****ed royally.
Jan 14, 2013 9:22AM
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I just bicycle the 3mi to work now.  Sold big truck and boat.  Saving a fortune toward new Chevy Volt purchase or maybe a Natural Gas powered car. 
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