2013 brought cheapest NC gas prices in three years

Jan 04, 2014

CHARLOTTE — In 2013, North Carolina motorists filled up for the lowest average price in three years, according to AAA Carolinas. Gas prices for the year in North Carolina averaged $3.43, down 13 cents from the 2012 average of $3.56 — the highest ever — and down four cents from the 2011 average of $3.47.

Last year's annual average in North Carolina is the cheapest since 2010, when gas prices averaged $2.72.

"Increased refinery capacity, more fuel-efficient vehicles and higher production of North American crude oil helped push prices lower in 2013," said David E. Parsons, president and CEO of AAA Carolinas. "We expect these trends to continue into 2014."

North Carolina gas prices started 2013 at $3.31 on Jan. 1 and peaked for the year at $3.80 on Feb. 22. The lowest price for the year was $3.19 on Nov. 14, which was the lowest price since July 2012.

In 2012, North Carolina gas prices peaked for the year at $3.91 on April 6 and hit bottom at $3.18 on July 4.

For 2013, the highest metro average in North Carolina was in Asheville at $3.46 and the lowest was $3.41 in Fayetteville. Greensboro/Winston-Salem/High Point averaged $3.42, Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill averaged $3.44, and Charlotte and Wilmington both averaged $3.43.

South Carolina had the lowest annual average in the country for the second year in a row at $3.24. California had the highest in the continental U.S. at $3.89.

The national average for 2013 was $3.49, down 11 cents from $3.60 in 2012.

Gas prices in North Carolina started 2014 at $3.31 - the same price as in 2013. They are expected to remain low through January due to decreased demand but typically rise in February as refineries conduct seasonal maintenance.

Overall, gas prices are expected to average slightly less in 2014 as refineries continue to expand production capacity and increasingly rely on North American crude oil. These factors should provide a supply cushion that helps to limit dramatic price spikes caused by supply and demand. However, unexpected global events or significant economic growth could result in higher prices.