The U.S. is experiencing a domestic oil boom that could soon make it the world’s largest liquid fuels producer. And how has that surge in production impacted gasoline prices?
In 2012, Americans paid more for gasoline than ever before.
According to figures from AAA, the average price of gasoline in 2012 was $3.60 per gallon, making last year the most expensive in history. Here’s what the organization reported on December 31:
Today’s national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline is $3.29. While this price is more than 10 cents less than one month ago, it is 4.5 cents more expensive than one week ago and 1.6 cents more than one year ago. The year ended with an annual average of $3.60 per gallon – the highest on record and nine cents more expensive than the previous high of $3.51 in 2011.
In 2012, prices increased to begin the year as geopolitical tension with Iran mounted and the “fear premium” in oil markets propelled the national average price at the pump to a high of $3.94 on April 5 and 6 – more than 65 cents higher than the price to begin the year. While a resolution to the “fiscal cliff” negotiations in Washington could pressure gasoline prices higher to begin 2013, it is unlikely that this increase would be on par with a year ago. Continued economic concerns, weak demand and increased domestic crude oil production are likely to temper any seasonal price increase in the coming months.
High gas prices caused a fever pitch in political circles. The 2012 campaign season was filled with calls for a “drill-everywhere-drill-anything” approach to energy policy. During the February primary season, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich released a plan to increase drilling and shut down the Environmental Protection Agency, which he claimed would lower gas prices to $2.50 per gallon. Analysts called it “absurd.”
During the general election, Mitt Romney unveiled an energy plan to “drill everywhere it can be done.” While Romney didn’t make any specific claims about how much it would lower prices at the pump, he did claim his plan would substantially lower prices for consumers.
However, while Romney and others made bold claims about how much their drilling plans would reduce gasoline prices, the opposite scenario played out: American oil production surged to historic highs; yet the average price of gasoline hovered at record levels for consumers. The year closed out as the most expensive ever for gasoline.