Drive around Columbia, and the signs are clear: Gas prices are increasing. But one thing remains uncertain — how much the prices will increase.
In Columbia, gas prices have risen to an average of $3.01 per gallon for regular gasoline, according to a Wednesday report by AAA. That’s a 90 cent increase from a year ago, but it’s still short of Columbia’s record average high reported by the association of $3.22 on May 22.
Meanwhile, diesel gas prices are hitting record highs. Last week, diesel in Missouri cost an average of $3.21 per gallon. According to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources Energy Center, the previous record average was $3.11 for Missouri.
With oil prices nearing $100 a barrel, some wonder if gas prices will hit new records before the end of the year.
“Nobody can actually predict how high gas prices will go,” said Mike Right, a spokesman for the automobile association of Missouri. “We are likely to see them increase.”
Columbia’s gas prices are still below the national average of $3.11, according to the association.
Columbia resident Greg Jones, who was filling up at Phillips 66 on Wednesday, said the rising prices are frustrating.
“It’s just too high. Three bucks a gallon is ridiculous,” he said. “I have to tighten down because I need transportation.”
Kerry Cordray, a spokesman for the Missouri Department of Natural Resources Energy Center, explained that the prices are up because of an increased demand coupled with stagnant supply. Crude oil prices are going up too, which also increases gas prices, Cordray said.
Cordray said that it’s unlikely gas will be significantly cheaper in the future, but he was hesitant to guess how high prices might go.
“The prices for fuel are very volatile,” he said. “Even the experts have difficulty predicting costs down the road.”
Gasoline is not the only energy product that will be getting more expensive. Propane will also be increasing in price, Cordray said.
“People will be seeing heating prices go up,” he said.