Gasoline prices project to top $4/gallon
So far, $4 a gallon has proven to be the upper limit consumers will pay. Last April, national prices peaked at about $3.98 a gallon. In 2008, a sharp run-up ended when prices hit an all-time average of $4.11 a gallon that summer.
"Higher demand, Iran, lost refining capacity are all potential problems," Milne says. "We'll get over $4 a gallon, but it's going to be tough to sustain that level. People will drive less."
Energy analyst Patrick DeHaan of price tracker Gasbuddy.com expects prices to rise to about $3.55 a gallon by the end of February and peak around $4 by Memorial Day weekend.
"You could see prices in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Washington and other major metropolitan areas at $4.60 or higher," DeHaan says. "There's definitely a limit how much it can go up. But the overall trend does remain higher."
Also see "Earliest ever rise above $3.50 is a bad sign for U.S. motorists" and "Gasoline consumption falls in California" from the Los Angeles Times.