So far, 2014 has been an expensive year at the gas pump, made even worse by the recent uprising of Islamic militants in Iraq and Syria. However, new reports say better news may be on the horizon for drivers. Analysts now believe gas prices may have peaked for the year. "We can't say that they've peaked for sure, but it does appear that for right now, prices are on a downward trend," says Doug Shupe with AAA-Texas. Indeed, the national average is down three cents from the Fourth of July weekend to $3.64 a gallon. The Texas average is at $3.46 according to GasBuddy, about a penny cheaper than a week ago.
All of the recent turmoil in the Middle East drove up the price of crude oil, which in turn led to the highest average Fourth of July gas prices in the U.S. since the record highs of 2008. But crude oil has now declined for nine straight days and is down near $100 a barrel. Shupe says the unrest in the Middle East is becoming less of a factor in domestic prices. "The violence in Iraq continues to impact global oil prices, but production in the south of that country remains unaffected," he tells KTRH. In fact, some analysts now believe crude oil could drop back below $95 a barrel after Labor Day.
Outside of issues overseas, the biggest remaining threat to gas prices for the rest of this year is the wild card of summer and early fall here in Texas---hurricanes. "The hurricane season tends to be more active in August and September," says Shupe. "Of course, a hurricane threat or a strike in August can cause dramatic changes in retail gas prices." Nevertheless, outside of a major hurricane he predicts solid domestic oil production will keep prices down for the rest of the year--even if the unrest in the Middle East continues.