While not expected to reach the $4-plus heights of a decade ago, experts say gas prices will be higher in the coming months than they’ve been in several years.
December prices are expected to be the highest since 2014, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic.
The national average gas price on Friday was $2.49 per gallon, 33 cents higher than at the same time last year, according to a AAA Mid-Atlantic release.
The Maryland average was $2.46, 25 cents higher than in December 2016.
AAA Mid-Atlantic spokeswoman Christine Delise said they expect that winter weather will lead to lower demand for gas in January and February, and so lower prices.
The recent high prices were partly caused by more people driving during unseasonably warm weather in October and November, Delise said.
“It was almost like summer extended into the fall,” she said.
U.S. oil companies are increasing oil production, to 9.7 million barrels per day, she said.
AAA expects prices to drop anywhere from 5 to 20 cents per gallon in the next few weeks, she said.
But Patrick DeHaan, a senior petroleum analyst for the website GasBuddy, said consumers shouldn’t expect a return to the low prices of recent years.
By any measure, prices in 2017 have been the highest on any given date since 2014, he said.
Oil prices are cyclical, and 2014 and 2015 were low years, DeHaan said.
In 2014, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries opened an era of lower prices by agreeing to pump as much oil as possible, he said. But the lower prices damaged the economy of Saudi Arabia, and last year the Saudis persuaded OPEC to cut production.
U.S. producers are likely to increase their output, but not enough to make up for the drop in OPEC production, DeHaan said.
But prices aren’t likely to go back to some of the highs of the past, because the U.S. has become more energy-efficient and seen a revolution in shale oil production that has contributed to lower prices, he said.
“You can’t go back in time,” he said.