The price of oil is poised for another run at $100 a barrel after a global economic rebound sent it surging 34 percent since May. That could push gasoline prices to $4 a gallon by summer in some parts of the country, experts say.
The U.S. is the world’s largest oil consumer, but prices since spring have been on a roll primarily because of rising demand in developing countries, especially China. China’s oil consumption is expected to rise 5 percent next year; that compares with less than 1 percent growth forecast for the U.S.
Benchmark oil for February delivery rose $1.54 on Friday to end the year at $91.38 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It reached $92.06 earlier in the day, the highest since Oct. 6, 2008. Nationwide gasoline pump prices now average $3.072 per gallon.
Gasoline expert Fred Rozell predicts that 15 states – including Alaska, Hawaii, Connecticut and Rhode Island – will see gasoline prices top $4 a gallon by Memorial Day. “A dollar more per gallon isn’t that much – probably about $750 more per year for each motorist, but there’s a psychological aspect to gas prices,” he said. “People are going to be up in arms about this.”