Gas prices in 2024 shouldn't pinch motorists as much as the past two years, GasBuddy says.Gas prices in 2024 shouldn't pinch motorists as much as the past two years, GasBuddy says.
Gas prices in 2024 shouldn't pinch motorists as much as the past two years, GasBuddy says.

Drivers could get relief on gas prices in 2024

Published on December 29, 2023 at 9:57 am

Gasoline prices in 2024 shouldn’t financially pinch Florida motorists as much as during the past two years, according to a company that tracks pump prices.

As inflation eases and the COVID-19 pandemic fades further into the background, the Boston-based GasBuddy expects pump prices nationally to drop from an average of about $3.51 for all of 2023 to $3.38 in 2024, reducing annual household spending on gas by about 2%.

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“The global refining picture continues to improve, providing more capacity and peace of mind that record-setting prices will stay away from the pump in 2024,” Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy, said in a statement with the company’s annual “Fuel Price Outlook.”

“I anticipate that we’ll still have some volatility, unexpected outages and disruptions, and potentially weather-related issues, but I do not expect it to lead to record prices,” De Haan continued.

In Florida, the 2024 average is forecast from $3.19 a gallon to $3.51 a gallon, with a peak of $3.67 in May as refineries start to return to a more-expensive summer blend, the school year comes to an end and warmer weather sparks travel.

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The May peak is forecast to help bring averages to $3.75 to $4.25 in Miami, $3.70 to $4.15 in Orlando and $3.65 to $4.10 in Tampa.

Last year, GasBuddy predicted that during 2023 pump prices would rise to a high of $4.25 to $4.65 a gallon in Miami, $4.15 to $4.55 in Orlando and $4.10 to $4.45 in Tampa.

The report did not include a forecast for Northeast Florida.

GasBuddy said that since first releasing an annual forecast in 2012, predictions have been above the actual outcome in eight of 11 years. For 2023, GasBuddy predicted the national average at $3.49 a gallon.

Numbers from the AAA auto club, which tracks prices, showed Florida averaging about $3.42 for 2023, with a high of $3.85 a gallon on Aug. 17.

On Friday, AAA said Florida’s average price for a gallon of regular unleaded was $3.10, 2 cents below the national average.

Under the GasBuddy forecast, the average American household is expected to spend $2,407 on gas in 2024. That would be an improvement from $2,460 per household in 2023 and $2,715 in 2022.

But the 2024 projection is above the prepandemic total of $1,952 per household in 2019, the last full year before COVID-19 disrupted the economy.

GasBuddy’s outlook attempts to factor in global volatility — situations like the Russian invasion of Ukraine and violence in the Middle East — along with the strength of global economies, crude oil prices, gas demand and supplies, refinery operations, pipeline logistics, government taxes and regulations, weather, OPEC policies and politics.

The report said U.S. oil production reached record levels in 2023, partly offsetting OPEC production cuts and lessening pressure on oil prices.

“While the growth in U.S. oil production is unlikely to repeat in 2024, we expect continued increases in output to set additional records in 2024,” the GasBuddy report said.

Prices also vary across the country.

The West Coast typically sees higher prices, as gasoline is produced at a small number of dominant refineries. Meanwhile, areas of the Northeast compete with Europe in the international market.

People in Florida and other parts of the Southeast receive gas supplied by major pipelines connecting to Gulf of Mexico-based refineries.

The Southeast region saw an increase of nearly 300,000 barrels a day of refining capacity with the expansion of ExxonMobil’s refinery in Beaumont, Texas, in early 2023, GasBuddy said. The Southeast has also benefited as the company LyondellBasell announced in May a delay in closing a 268,000 barrel-per-day refinery until 2025, the report said.

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