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Toms River Gas Prices Likely To Reach $4 By Spring

Nation records highest price January on record

If you feel a little lighter in the wallet, there’s good reason.

Last month was the most expensive January on record for gas prices, and experts say there’s no end in sight as fuel prices likely will push toward $4 a gallon by spring. 

Last week, the current national average is $3.48 a gallon for regular grade gas. In New Jersey, that average is slightly lower at $3.42. In Toms River this week, prices are ranging from $3.38 to $3.45.

Prices have been on the rise since late November and have steadily climbed through January, bucking longtime trends and defying conventional logic that pairs historically low demand with lower prices, according to Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at the Oil Price Information Service.

“It’s a little bit unusual,” Kloza said. “Demand stinks traditionally in January and all the data indicates that it stinks to high heaven this year.”

The oil price service, which provides the Automobile Association of America and other major organizations with the national average gas price information, is based on Route 138 in Wall Township.

Nationally, the average price in January for a gallon of regular-grade gas was $3.37. Last year, it was about $3.10. In 2010, $2.71, according to Kloza.

The prices for regular-grade gas averaged $3.51 a gallon in 2011, the highest annual price ever, representing more than twice the price average in the first four years of the century, according to the service.

But demand is at historically low levels, Kloza said. So what’s driving the higher pump prices?

Blame demand in the rest of the world, along with some speculation and a little bit of fear, Kloza said.

“The world’s appetite for oil is still very good,” he said. “And demand is colored a little by fear Isreal may be striking out at Iran, which could cause some problems at the Straight of Hormuz.’’

Iran has threatened to cut off access to the Straight of Hormuz, a narrow sea passage between the Gulf of Oman and the Persian Gulf  and a major pathway for oil destined for the United States.

“When gas prices are above $4, it has a huge impact on consumer confidence,’’ Kloza said. “I think $3.75 to $4.25 to be a logical peaking spot for the spike, and I emphasize spike.’’

Drivers should expect to see prices to fall once that high mark is reached, Kloza said.

And while New Jersey drivers typically pay less at the pump than their Midwestern counterparts, that may not be the case this summer, Kloza said.

The Northeast is considered a “hot spot’’ for gas prices this coming season, he said, as refineries that normally provide gas to the region close. Two on the Delaware River are slated to close, along with one in the Virgin Islands. Couple that with several key refineries in Europe and the northeast U.S. may be looking at higher gas prices than normal, Kloza said.

“Gas will be cheaper in the center of the country,” Kloza said. “Significantly cheaper prices than we see on the coast.”

2000-2011 Annual U.S. Gasoline Averages*

  • 2000 -- $1.5008 gal
  • 2001 -- $1.4397 gal
  • 2002 -- $1.3497 gal
  • 2003 -- $1.5587 gal
  • 2004 -- $1.8427 gal
  • 2005 -- $2.2654 gal
  • 2006 -- $2.5667 gal
  • 2007 -- $2.7892 gal
  • 2008 -- $3.2512 gal
  • 2009 -- $2.3481 gal
  • 2010 -- $2.7819 gal
  • 2011 -- $3.5104 gal

*Source: Oil Price Information Service

LA RUE February 13, 2012 at 02:00 PM
Here we go!!!! Get ready for the summer of 2012. This is just the beginning!!!
almuzer February 13, 2012 at 02:22 PM
“When gas prices are above $4, it has a huge impact on consumer confidence,’’ Kloza said. “I think $3.75 to $4.25 to be a logical peaking spot for the spike, and I emphasize spike.’’ Drivers should expect to see [gas] prices fall (right after the GOP plan to raise prices in an attempt to manipulate the voting public in what will prove to be an ultimately futile attempt to defeat Obama fails in November) once that high mark is reached, Kloza said.
Gino De Lucia February 13, 2012 at 03:18 PM
It's a bunch of crap. It's a fact that we have more oil right here under the Rockies than there is in all of the mid-east, so why in the hell are we being held hostage to these greedy A-holes? Do you not agree that It's time that we Americans demand real "CHANGE" to this problem & that we get off of our butts and do something to bring that about?
Mark D February 13, 2012 at 05:40 PM
Think about this Gino. When all the oil in the Middle East is gone, and we're still sitting on that big stockpile under the Rockies, who's going to be in the drivers seat?
Carol Aller February 13, 2012 at 06:23 PM
This is all speculation and someone is reaping the benefits...the oil companies! (and any political office holders that have investments in oil! Duh!) The threat of a possible war between Isreal and Iran? Not buying that either. Just another excuse coming out of Washington. The real reason is the 2012 elections! Oil companies have experienced and enjoyed record profits on the backs of Americans, but hey...this is an election year....if you think that has nothing to do with it, I've got swamp land in Canada to sell you!! Everyone needs to Twitter or write to Obama and ALL of your/our congressman that we aren't "buying" what they're selling, that the American public is not stupid, and they had better do something about this NOW if they want to be reelected in the fall! Start writing!!
Carol Aller February 13, 2012 at 06:34 PM
btw...I've had to curtail a lot of driving already. I am a senior and on a fixed income. My son, wife and new grandaughter moved out of state last year due to a job transfer and I used to drive down to see them. I can no longer do that. Where is the governor on this issue? What is the Governor doing about the high property taxes? Hello? Governor Christie, are you there??
bayway mike February 13, 2012 at 06:35 PM
When it hits $4/gallon (5/27/2012 is my guess), the race will be on until it hits $5/gallon!! And the only winners will be the shareholders of petroleum stocks..
Billabong February 13, 2012 at 06:55 PM
What exactly do you expect the governor to do about gas prices? NJ already has one of the lowest gas taxes in the country (which is amazing since we usually get nailed on most other taxes). These insane prices and the record profits of oil companies are way above the head of any state governor.
Carol Aller February 13, 2012 at 07:05 PM
I don't agree. We aren't just talking about 'any' Governor here....we are talking about the one governor that is the 'talk of the media' in this country....interviewed by Oprah...media hangs on his every word....possibly running for President in the not so distant future...and when Christie speaks, the rest of the country listens! He could have a LOT of influence with whatever he wants to, IF he chooses to!
Xavier February 13, 2012 at 07:46 PM
Seems some people don't understand how the commodities markets work.
Oscar Wilde February 13, 2012 at 08:34 PM
that should be the final blow to the drowning NJ Taxpayer
Kimberly Degener February 14, 2012 at 03:49 AM
I was without a car for 2 years, Im pretty sure I can walk everywhere again. I refuse to pay 4 dollars a gallon. Absurd.
Eddie February 24, 2012 at 02:53 AM
It figures, I retired, bought a new truck to tow my RV and now I won't be able to afford to put gas in it and enjoy camping anymore.........GREAT.
BN February 24, 2012 at 04:50 AM
Bye bye Obammy!

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