Woodward, Okla. —
OKLAHOMA CITY - Officials believe gas prices may see some additional decreases, or at least remain stable, over the remaining winter.
However, several fuel analysts had been predicted lower prices that weren't realized in some areas last month. For example, Chuck Mai, director of public affairs for AAA Oklahoma, said AAA analysts had anticipated the cost of regular unleaded to fall below $3 in Woodward by the end of Dec. 2012. But prices only hit a low around $3.13 in the area.
The problem, Mai said, is that there are a variety of factors that go into analyzing fuel prices which can sometimes make cost predictions a challenge.
"Predicting the price of gas is like determining odds for the World Series," he said. "Many factors - the economy and the fuel supply, for example - influence the price. It's like trying to nail a feather to a wall."
REMAINING WINTER PREDICTIONS GOOD, AAA SAID
Nevertheless, analysts are confident that the short-term outlook, covering the next 3 months or so, is favorable for keeping prices down or even dropping somewhat.
Mai said gas in 2013 will be less expensive than last year due to increased production and less demand.
Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum monitor for the online gas price database GasBuddy.com, agreed that more fuel production will help to keep prices down.
DeHaan said a recent build up in gasoline inventories could interrupt what had become an annual trend where in 6 out of the last 7 years, U.S. retail gasoline prices have risen from Christmas Day through mid-January.
"WIth an increase over last month of 16.1 million barrels, that's 7 percent more, the gasoline inventory now exceeds the highest level reached during 2012 and the highest point since February 2011," he said.
DeHaan said a lower demand during the holidays and an increase in production likely supported the inventory rise.