Oil surplus leads to lower prices at the pump in 2015.
The national average price of gas during 2015 was 94 cents per gallon lower than 2014, and the lowest national average since 2009, according to a release from the American Automobile Association (AAA).
The current national average is hovering around the $2 mark, with the December average at $2.01, the lowest average since March of 2009. The state of Missouri has the lowest current average price at $1.72, with California leading the high-priced states at $2.85 per gallon.
Fuel prices remained at the lower levels throughout 2015 due in part to a worldwide surplus of crude oil, creating more supply than demand and falling prices. That situation is expected to continue through 2016, and the AAA is predicting next year’s average to hit between $2.25 and $2.40, even lower than this year’s final number.
The agency also said they expect to see a rise within the next few months, due to seasonal trends which include increased summer driving, and the fact that refineries will be conducting their spring maintenance, but it does not expect the prices to reach an average of $3 per gallon, although some areas could pass that mark for a period of time.
However, unexpected changes in the oil market could make some significant changes in gas prices in the next year. There is a great deal of uncertainty over the potential cost of crude oil, even though most experts say the market will remain the same and the surplus will hold.
California led the way in with the highest average for 2015, at $3.29 per gallon, but part of that was due to some problems with refineries in the state that had disrupted production during the year. Hawaii, the traditional gas price leader in 13 of the last 16 years, finished second last year at $3.10.
Drivers in the Southeast paid the lowest prices for a gallon in 2015, with South Carolina leading the pack for the fourth straight year with an average of $2.10 per gallon, followed by Mississippi at $2.14, Alabama at $2.15, Tennessee at $2.16 and Louisiana at $2.18. Many southeastern states benefit from lower gasoline taxes and abundant production from refineries located there.