Florida gas prices the highest in 8 years — and could get worse

(David Zalubowski, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. – Florida’s gas prices have jumped 12 cents in the past week, 24 cents over two weeks, and the bad news is that experts see them getting higher before they come back down.

“Unfortunately it looks like the pain at the pump may continue to worsen, after oil prices saw another strong round of gains last week,” said Mark Jenkins, a spokesman for the American Automobile Association who tracks fuel costs. “The upward momentum in crude prices has been driven by geopolitical concerns related to Russia, cold weather and underwhelming global crude output. The price of crude rose $6 last week, which if sustained, could trigger another 10-15 cent hike at the pump in the coming weeks.”

Already, the state average of $3.47 for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline Monday morning is the highest its been since July 2014, according to AAA. The average cost for mid-grade gas is $3.81 and premium costs $4.11.

Jenkins said that the U.S. price for crude oil settled above $90 a barrel on Friday for the first time since October 2014.

“Friday’s settlement of $92.1 per barrel is $5.49/b more than the week before, and $7.66/b more than last year’s high,” AAA said in a news release. “Since oil is a key ingredient in gasoline, the price of oil influences about half the total price of what drivers pay at the pump. So far this year, the U.S price for crude oil has risen 21%. That $16 increase in crude is the equivalent of a 40 cent swing in gasoline prices. So far this year, gas prices have risen 27 cents, which means pump prices may rise another 13 cents before fully adjusting to the latest oil price hike.”

As is often the case, many South Florida are paying over the state average. Broward’s average price for a gallon regular unleaded is $3.501, Palm Beach’s is $3.598 and Monroe County is paying $3.712.

Miami-Dade is under the state average at $3.435.

The national average is $3.441, AAA says.

Gas prices have been on the rise nationally as well. Patrick De Haan, of GasBuddy, reports that the 8-cent jump in the national average is the largest weekly increase since last February and that no state currently has an average under $3.

De Haan did predict that prices could go down this week, though, as some stations start undercutting prices.

How to save money on gas

AAA recently released these tips for combating higher gas prices:

  • Pay in cash. Some gasoline retailers charge a few cents per gallon more for customers who pay with a credit card.
  • Shop around. Oftentimes retailers with the most expensive gas prices are located near airports, attractions and interstate on/off ramps.
  • Make sure your vehicle is properly maintained. Not only can poor vehicle maintenance lead to car trouble, it also reduces fuel economy. Tire pressure, motor oil and air filters are all things that can affect your vehicle’s fuel consumption.
  • Consider carpooling, combining errands, or driving the most fuel-efficient vehicle.
  • Remove excess weight. The heavier your vehicle, the harder your engine has to work.
  • Drive conservatively. Speeding and heavy acceleration burns gasoline faster.
  • Enroll in savings programs.

For more information on Florida gas prices, click here.