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Expert: Gas prices not expected to hit $5 anytime soon

Why is gas so high right now, when just weeks ago it seemed like prices were stabilizing? We spoke with an expert to find out.

WYOMING, Mich. — Gas prices in West Michigan hit records highs this week, jumping 40 cents over the weekend.

Just last week, the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded was $3.99, according to GasBuddy. Now, the average price for regular unleaded is $4.39 across metro-Grand Rapids.

So why is gas so high right now, when just weeks ago it seemed like prices were stabilizing? Patrick De Haan, a petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, says the recent spike stems from a couple of months ago.  

De Haan said back in the early spring, he predicted prices would soar to $4.49, but prices peaked at around $4.29 back then. He said this recent spike is due to the volatility in the market, and gas stations had to finally raise prices to make a profit.

“Oil prices have been extremely volatile,” said De Haan. “And gas stations have been taking it a bit on the chin here as of late. And that's why some of the stations over the weekend, they couldn't hold back any further.”

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De Haan added, “That's what triggered the increase in a lot of stations, given the fact that wholesale gas prices have gone up about 20 to 30 cents a gallon over the last week, a lot of stations have been paying the higher costs.”

De Haan said gas stations didn't pass along that extra cost until Monday. He explained with the ongoing war in Ukraine plus a COVID surge in China, it's hard to predict exactly where gas prices will go next.

Many people across West Michigan are traveling this upcoming Mother's Day weekend. Drivers can expect prices being a bit cheaper in places like Indiana and Ohio. Wisconsin has the lowest average price as of Wednesday, sitting at $3.96.

De Haan said the one place people should avoid is Chicago and the state of Illinois. The average price in the Windy City is $4.73.

There is some good news, if you consider this good news. De Haan said he is not expecting prices to soar to the $5 mark in West Michigan. He said we can expect prices to gradually increase on heavily traveled weekends like Memorial Day and Independence Day weekends.

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