Gas prices reached a record high in the Chicago area in March 2012 . Prices at the pump had been steadlly decreasing over the last quarter of 2012 and economists say that trend should continue into the new year. John H. White | Sun-Times Media
Pain at the pump was its most severe ever in the Chicago area and nationally in 2012, but some relief is expected this year.
The price of unleaded regular in the Chicago area averaged $3.91 a gallon in 2012 — 12 cents a gallon higher than the previous record of $3.79 a gallon set in 2011, according to AAA. For three of the past five years, the average has hit a record. In 2008, the price averaged what was then a record high of $3.45 a gallon, the motor club said.
Nationally, the average was $3.60 a gallon. That surpassed the previous record highs of $3.51 in 2011 and $3.25 in 2008.
Gas prices were driven higher this year by hurricanes in the Northeast and Gulf Coast, refinery outages in the Midwest and tensions in the Middle East tied to sanctions against Iran due to its nuclear program, AAA said.
While gas prices are expected to remain elevated in 2013, AAA isn’t forecasting record-setting prices.
“AAA expects gas prices in 2013 will be less than 2012 as a result of decreased demand and increased supplies,” said AAA spokesman Michael Green.
On Monday, unleaded regular gas in the Chicago area averaged just over $3.42 a gallon, nearly 8 cents less than a year earlier and roughly 17 cents less than a month earlier.
Nationally, unleaded regular gas averaged $3.29 a gallon, up nearly 2 cents from a year earlier and down roughly 10 cents from a month earlier.
Gas prices have fallen in recent months due to decreased demand, increased supplies and the switch over to cheaper winter-blend fuels, according to AAA.