This past year was one of the most volatile years for gas prices. Although prices currently seem to be settling at relative lows for the year, we can’t forget that we also saw record highs in 2012. These “lows” aren’t really low – frequent price spikes caused us to become accustomed to paying too much for gas. So what made us numb to high gas prices? Here are the highlights of the year (in no particular order):
- It may seem like a distant memory at this point, but January of 2012 saw the highest gas prices ever recorded for the start of a new year. The reason? Well that depends on who you ask. Some claimed it was caused by signs of an “economic recovery.” Others blamed escalating tensions with Iran and others accused increasing global demand. Reading this Jan. 16, 2012 CNN article, it appears to be pretty clear that nearly anything can be (and was) blamed for high prices.
- If January wasn’t bad enough for families trying to get by on a budget, February was even worse. Gas prices spiked 8 percent, but at least this time the media seemed to have a culprit to pin the increase on – Iran. Well, sort of. Analysts still blamed refinery issues, increased demand and all the usual suspects, but were putting increased emphasis on tensions with Iran.
- Were you unfortunate enough to live in or drive your car through California during March or October of this year? If so, you may have been the victim of an illegal price-fixing collusion scheme by oil companies that resulted in record-high gas prices. In some cases, prices were rising so fast that station owners stopped buying new gas from oil companies, out of the fear that they wouldn’t be able to sell the fuel to customers at an outrageous price of $5 a gallon.
- But just because you weren’t in California doesn’t mean you missed that gas-price-spike phenomenon. The country’s largest metropolitan area, New York City, and its surrounding environs, including Long Island and nearly the entire states of New Jersey and Connecticut, suffered from steep fuel price spikes as a result of Hurricane Sandy.
- If you took a summer road trip, you may not have been so happy either. July 2012 saw the largest gas price increase in at least a dozen years. Wedged between Memorial Day and Labor Day, it’s rare to see such price increases for a month when many people are on vacation, therefore not commuting to work on a daily basis. At least this time analysts seemed to be in agreement on who to blame – ourselves, for driving too much.
- Another first for high gas prices was achieved this year – the most expensive September ever. Even though drivers were told to expect lower prices after Labor Day, as is usually the case, Hurricane Isaac provided the perfect excuse to keep gas prices high.
While 2011 currently holds the title for the most expensive year ever for gas prices, there is still just over a week left in 2012. Considering all that we’ve endured at the pump this year, and the increasing amount of excuses we hear to justify making us empty our wallets in order to fill up our tanks, we may have a new winner.+