The gas prices that cracked $4.00 and spilled green yolk north towards $4.50 a gallon were not part of your imagination over the Labor Day weekend. No, those prices were higher than all other Labor Days since the dutiful book keepers began keeping track of such things. Gasoline prices rose 9.4% in August, which is the largest percentage gain for a single month in more than three years. The national average was $3.83 last Saturday, or well above the previous record of $3.67, set on the Saturday before Labor Day weekend in 2008.
There were, however, external factors that played into the inflated prices. An enormous refinery fire at a major Chevron facility here in the Bay Area in Richmond was one cause of the spike, in addition to the shutdown of refinery capacity in the Gulf due to Hurricane Isaac. Global economic uncertainty also pushed those gas station price placards up. The ongoing debt crisis in Europe, worries of domestic economic growth and geo-political volatility with Iran (and its globally-associated oil industry) helped increase the price per gallon.
But these industry experts tend to have a way of predicting lower fuel prices smack in the face of stubborn price rises. As such, the end of summer blend gasoline should bring prices down by $.20 in a month’s time, and along with the Gulf resuming their refining, our U.S. average may drop to $3.25 by December. This optimism comes from Tom Kloza, chief analyst at the Oil Price Information Service.
Unfortunately, I have a hard time believing Kloza’s claims. This is the reason why hybrid vehicles and those better on gasoline are being purchased (and talked about) more, and companies are makin’ more of ‘em.