Year-End Review: 2021 Gas Price Recap

by Gwen Newell

After a year mostly characterized by rising gas prices, 2021 ended with prices slowly moving lower. Now, the state average for North Carolina is back on the rise, currently averaging at $3.10 per gallon, one cent more expensive than last month – whereas the state average for South Carolina is now averaging at $3.02 per gallon, also one cent more expensive than last month.

It’s no surprise that the pandemic has caused a rollercoaster ride for prices at the pump. In 2020, gas prices plummeted when lockdowns led to lower fuel demand, which subsequently caused a surplus in global fuel supplies. As a result, many countries cut back on crude production, leaving the market vulnerable to what would happen next. In 2021, vaccinations rolled out and demand came roaring back much faster than oil production, which led to gas prices skyrocketing to levels not seen in seven years.

This past year, the average price for gasoline in North Carolina started at a low of $2.10 per gallon and reached a high of $3.25 per gallon (October 27). The average price for gasoline in South Carolina started at a low of $2.01 per gallon and reached a high of $3.18 per gallon (October 27). For now, it appears that fluctuating gas prices will hang around well into 2022 and motorists should expect continued volatility at the pump, as prices will likely ebb and flow, based on news about the pandemic and its implications on global supply and demand.

According to new data from the Energy Information Administration, total domestic gasoline stocks decreased slightly as gasoline demand increased. Growing demand and tight supply would support more significant increases in pump prices, but fluctuations in the price of crude oil have helped to limit price increases. If oil prices climb, pump prices will likely follow suit.

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