GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Drivers may have noticed gas prices increasing around West Michigan over the past few days. Luckily, it’s not expected to last.
“This had been the expectation for the last week. The price of oil had shot up initially about two weeks ago. It had gone from $95 all the way back up to about $112 (per barrel), and that fueled concerns that prices would go back up. Now, it took about another week for it to happen…” Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, said.
According to De Haan, some stations across West Michigan saw a 30 to 60 cent increase per gallon. He said this isn’t out of the blue. Since early March, when gas prices hit a plateau at about $4.29 per gallon, stations have slowly been lowering their prices. Now, many have been selling at cost or under cost.
“And that’s when we usually expect it to go up, two to three days after those numbers start to align, and that’s usually what happens. In this case, we got almost a week or week and a half of stations that didn’t raise their prices…” he said.
The bright side: the cost of oil is going back down. On Monday, oil was down about 7%. De Haan attributed that to the lockdowns that are happening in China.
“A lot of China, some of the biggest cities… are shutting down because of COVID. And what that does is it immediately destroys demand, similar to what happened in the U.S., everyone stayed home…” he said. “…And global demand is likely to take a big drop until they open back up.”
Even with the decrease in the cost of oil, it can take a few days for drivers to feel relief at the pump, though De Haan said prices could start going down within 24 hours of the increase.
He predicted that by the weekend, prices will be down to $3.95 or even $3.89 per gallon.
“If you can’t get gas at the lower prices (on Monday), wait, because prices will start to come back down in the days ahead and by the weekend,” De Haan said.
How long those lower prices stick around remains unclear. De Haan says that with all the global factors at play — China, Ukraine, COVID-19, European Union sanctions on Russia, etc. — it’s harder to predict what will happen to the price of gas before Memorial Day weekend, one of the busiest travel weekends of the year.
“Memorial Day weekend is very difficult to predict (but) I’m going to guess somewhere in the upper $3 or lower $4 a gallon range,” he said.