Report: Consumers can expect highest gas prices in three years for 2017

PHOTO: Gas pump, Photo Date: April 13, 2010. (MGN Online)

Motorists have little to complain about with recent gas prices, compared to when averages were well over $3 a gallon just a few years ago. However, a new report released Wednesday says gas prices are expected to be the highest they have been since 2014.

According to GasBuddy's 2017 Fuel Price Outlook, drivers can expect to pay a collective $52 billion more at the pump in 2017 than last year, bringing the total forecasted sales to $355 billion. The company says motorists saved $39 billion on gasoline in 2016 compared to the previous year.

Drivers can expect prices to spike later this winter and spring for the seasonal switch from "winter-blend" to "summer-blend" and mandated by the EPA and the Clean Air Act. Analysts believe prices will rise between 35 and 60 cents from mid-February and likely peak in May.

“The list of factors being mixed into the yearly forecast has never been larger," said GasBuddy senior petroleum analyst Patrick DeHaan. "This year will see a new administration take over, perhaps the most oil-friendly in some time, and with so many unknowns in regards to policy changes, we’ll be keeping a keen eye on such along with taxation changes. But forecasting fuel prices, especially this year, remains a challenging balance of science and art."

It is also believed that the $3 gallon of gas will return to New York, Chicago, Washington D.C., Los Angeles, and Seattle. The twenty largest metro areas in the U.S. can also expect similar prices.

More factors that come into deciding the retail gasoline prices include tax changes, both federal and state, volatility in the Middle East, currency fluctuations, refinery maintenance and unscheduled outages, weather, and issues in the shipping industry.

"In recent years the 'price at the pump' continues to garner more media attention serving as an economic barometer on Main Street that stirs opinions from a broad swath of consumers from coast to coast," said Gregg Laskoski, senior petroleum analyst. "Forecasting the direction of that 'barometer', the potential trouble-spots and how the trends are likely to translate into dollars and cents affords us the opportunity to share insights that help everyone save money, even when prices are climbing."

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