GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Gas prices in West Michigan, sitting around $3.37 Monday, are expected to stay relatively high for the foreseeable future.
A variety of factors are contributing to higher prices at the pump, according to experts in the field like Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy, a website that monitors and compares gas prices across the country.
“Across Grand Rapids, gas prices jumped up last week... Most stations raised their prices to $3.39/ a gallon. Now we have started to see prices slowly trickle down since that late-week hike,” DeHaan told FOX 17 on Monday.
“I don't think that we're going to see much relief anytime soon.”
On Monday, prices around Grand Rapids were at an average of $3.37 per gallon. The cheapest fill-up in the area, according to GasBuddy, was for $2.99 a gallon at the Remembrance Rd. Marathon station in Walker.
“We're in the midst of what is developing into a global energy crunch," DeHaan said.
"In China, they are trying to cut energy consumption because of a lack of coal inventories. In Europe, there's a shortage of natural gas that has caused natural gas prices in Europe to explode to their highest level ever.”
He says the pandemic has created serious challenges for the oil production industry as well.
“You start the pandemic, and that was when prices in West Michigan fell to, I think in some cases, $1.30 a gallon, and that's the low price that then caused the oil industry to start shutting down production,” DeHaan said.
“Which is why oil companies let tens of thousands of workers go, why they shut down so much production.”
For those reasons, he says, oil companies are currently producing about 20% less than they were prior to the pandemic.
“Until those supply bottlenecks [are fixed] and oil production goes up to match the increase in demand, we could be stuck with oil prices that are at, or near, or set new seven-year highs," DeHaan said.
If you are trying to figure out your best time to fill up next, DeHaan recommends waiting a few days.
“I think the good news here, in the very short term, for the week ahead... I think gas prices may back off a few cents a gallon," he said.
"So, if you need to fill up, I think later this week would be better.... simply because gas prices in West Michigan engage in what we call price cycling— they shot up last week, now they will start trickling back down this week.”