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Gas prices

Gas prices are expected to average 19 cents higher nationally in 2018 than in 2017.

The year is now 2018. If you add 18 and 20, you get 38, Half of 38 is 19. Why is that all important?

Because that's the prediction for how much higher gas prices will be this year.

Gas price tracking website GasBuddy on Wednesday released its forecast for 2018, and it predicts gas prices nationally will rise to an average of $2.57 a gallon, 19 cents higher than a year ago. That would be the highest average price since 2014.

GasBuddy petroleum analyst Patrick DeHaan said in a news release that a big reason prices are predicted to rise are moves by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Those countries agreed last year to cut output, which has helped send oil prices above $60 a barrel, their highest levels in more than two years.

Other factors that are likely to play a role in higher gas prices include gas taxes, the overall economy and potential one-time events, such as another large hurricane, DeHaan said.

Rising oil prices and higher-than-normal holiday travel have already caused prices to rise going into the new year, with AAA reporting the $2.49 national average Wednesday was the highest in four years.

The good news is that January is typically one of the lowest months for gasoline demand.

"Now that the holiday season is in the rearview mirror, motorists can expect gas prices to trend cheaper this month, as we are likely to see a significant drop in gasoline demand,” Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokeswoman, said in a news release.

Prices are a little bit lower locally. According to AAA, the average price of a gallon of gas in Lincoln as of Wednesday was $2.44, up 8 cents from a week ago but only 6 cents from a year ago. Statewide, the average was $2.42, up 4 cents from a week ago and 8 cents from a year ago.

If GasBuddy's prediction holds true, the average family would pay $133 more for gas in 2018 than in 2017, or about $11 more a month.

Reach the writer at 402-473-2647 or molberding@journalstar.com.

On Twitter @LincolnBizBuzz.

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Business editor/reporter

Matt Olberding is a Lincoln native and University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate who has been covering business for the Journal Star since 2005.

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