Gas prices hit highest average in seven years, analysts say

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Drivers have probably noticed that gas prices are beginning to increase. According to analysts, prices are the highest on average in seven years.

“I got it for $2.77 a couple of days ago and all of a sudden, it’s just jumped up there,” driver Bobbie Whitehead said.

“Just jumped up on us out of nowhere. I was surprised when I rode past the gas station. I was like $3?” driver Tevin Jackson said.

Channel 9 checked GasBuddy’s statistics on Wednesday and the average price in Charlotte was $3.05. The average price in Mecklenburg County was on the lower end while Rowan County was on the higher end. The average price in North Carolina was $3.07 and in South Carolina it was $3.04, both of which are lower than the national average of $3.29.

“I’m hopeful that it won’t get a whole lot worse,” GasBuddy analyst Patrick De Haan told Action 9′s Jason Stoogenke. “I feel very confident that prices will stay well under $3.50 a gallon for at least the next few months, but if something happens in the Middle East or if there’s another major (kink) in the supply chain, those are the types of instances that could provide exceptions.”

According to De Haan, it’s a supply and demand issue. Demand is up because more people are driving.

De Haan said drivers are spending $400 million more on gas each day than this time last year. In addition, China is running low on coal and Europe is facing a natural gas shortage so “oil can be used as a substitute, further increasing demand,” De Haan added.

As far as supply, refineries are still recovering from Hurricane Ida’s impact. OPEC, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, met last week to discuss speeding up production, but decided against it.

De Haan also noted that oil companies cut back on workers during the pandemic. “Hardly anyone was filling up, so oil companies were kind of forced to let go tens of thousands of workers, shutting down significant portions of production,” he said.

Stoogenke did notice that prices vary. He saw a 20-cent difference at two stations just a few miles apart. His advice is to shop around. It may be worth it.

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