Was Gas Really Cheaper in 2008?

During this election year, one of the hot topics of discussion is the price of fuel four years ago. Although there are a dizzying number of factors that influence fuel prices, whoever is in the White House often takes the blame when gas prices spike.

This year has set records for average fuel prices, but on July 17th 2008, when a gallon of regular unleaded cost $4.11, is when the highest national daily average was achieved, according to AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report.

AAA’s manager of public relations, Michael Green predicts it to be likely that 2012 fuel prices will be the highest ever on record even with 2008’s record high and long stretch of days averaging over $4 per gallon. The current year-to-date average cost of gas per gallon is $3.65, which is already higher that the national average for 2008 that came out to be $3.25 per gallon that wasn’t adjusted for inflation. When adjusting for inflation 2008’s rate still lies lower than 2012’s current rate at $3.48 per gallon. Prices generally drop neat the end of the year, so the yearly average will likely be a few cents lower than current prices, Green says.

According to Green, there are two reason that gas prices have remained expensive in 2012: the price of oil has been costly all year long, and refinery disruptions have kept regional prices spiked. Earlier in the year, tensions between the U.S. and Iran resulted in high prices, and this summer saw pipeline disruptions to the Midwest, Hurricane Isaac affected refineries in the Gulf Coast, and the recent refinery fire in California.

At around $3 to $3.25 per gallon, the graph shows that fuel prices four yeas ago started similar to 2012’s prices. 2012’s higher to-date average is differentiated by oil prices plummeting in late 2008 because of the crashing economy that lowered the demand of oil. In late November of 2008, prices dipped below $2 per gallon, and continued to decline to a low of $1.61 on December 30, 2008. The lowest price of gas for 2012 was recorded on January 1st and ended up being $3.27.