Gas prices entering Memorial Day weekend are at their highest level since 2014 nationwide. In Billings, prices are 50 cents higher than were they were a year ago, reaching $2.84 a gallon.
"The rise in gas prices this year is due to long-term OPEC productions cuts that were made at the start of 2017," said Patrick Dehaan, the head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy.com, adding, "Those cuts have led to much less crude oil being shipped globally. So supply is down, in addition to the U.S. exiting the Iran nuclear deal – something that is only costing a few cents per gallon at this point but could hold some more potential in the weeks ahead should our allies and partners place sanctions on Iran. That would make it much harder for that crude oil to make it to the global market. In addition Venezuela’s economic crisis has led to a plunge in how much crude oil they are exporting."
Dehaan says to expect summer travel plans to take a back seat as consumers face tough choices about their spending.
“There’s a big drop. In a survey we took about summer travels, 58 percent of the responses said that they will take a road trip this summer. That’s a 24 percent drop from last year. Thirty-nine percent said high gas prices are affecting their summer travel plans compared to just 19 percent a year ago. So it does look like higher gas prices are causing some anxiety throughout the U.S.," Dehaan said.
For now, drivers can expect gas prices to hover around $3 a gallon in Billings for most of the summer, according to analysts.