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AAA Gas Price Outlook for 2014 - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

AAA Gas Price Outlook for 2014

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On Thursday, AAA of North Dakota released an outlook on gas prices for 2014. The report says gas prices will likely rise this spring as refineries conduct seasonal maintenance, but the annual peak may be lower than last year.

According to AAA, the national average price of gas could reach a daily average high of $3.55-$3.75 per gallon in 2014, which compares to a peak of $3.79 in 2013.

Prices generally rise in the spring as many refineries cut production to conduct seasonal maintenance, which can limit gasoline supplies and cause market uncertainty. This maintenance generally takes place between strong demand periods for heating oil in the winter and gasoline in the summer, and before the regulated switchover to summer-blend gasoline. This switchover process itself can further limit supplies and increase pump prices.

Last year the national average increased 49 cents per gallon over 41 days before peaking in late February. Gas prices similarly increased 56 cents per gallon in spring 2012 and 86 cents per gallon in 2011.

For the year, the price for a gallon of gas in the United States averaged $3.49 in 2013. It could average at least five cents per gallon less in 2014, says AAA. Many refineries have increased capacity to take advantage of the recent boom in North American crude oil production, which will help tame volatility. Gas prices in 2012 were the most expensive on record at $3.60 per gallon, followed by 2011 with an annual average of $3.51 per gallon.

Motorists in North Dakota will likely see a peak much lower than the record high of $4.24 set in May 2013. Benefiting from easy access to cheaper North American crude oil, prices in the central states could see prices trend below the national average.  The average price for gas in North Dakota last year was $3.54, five cents higher than the national average.

Unexpected developments and events overseas could change AAA's price outlook considerably, but there is little doubt that gas will continue to cost more than most people would like, says AAA, which updates fuel price averages daily at www.FuelGaugeReport.AAA.com.

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