As the national average for gas hit the highest level since 2008 at $4.11 (national average), we were paying $4.29 a gallon across West Michigan last week.  There seems to be some relief in sight... at least in the short term.

A barrel of the "black gold" hit it's high on April 8th at $112 per barrel.  It always amazes me when the price per barrel goes up .30 cents, within the hour the price at the pump jumps up 20, 30 cents per gallon, but when the barrel price goes down, we may see a decline of a whole nickel over the course of a week, sometimes two.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration 's website, the rise in crude oil prices is reflected in higher petroleum product prices.  The EIA also projects that the retail price of regular-grade gasoline will average $3.86 per gallon during this summer’s driving season (the period between April 1 and September 30), up from $2.76 per gallon last summer.  The EIA forecasts the annual average regular retail gasoline price will increase from $3.70 per gallon in 2011 $3.80 per gallon in 2012, (I thought we were above that already).  Current market prices of futures and options contracts for gasoline suggest a 33-percent probability that the national monthly average retail price for regular gasoline could exceed $4.00 per gallon during July 2011.

Bottom line... Over the past couple of decades, the fine folks in power have deregulated and softened the way things are done, resulting in oil speculators setting the prices.  They look (with anticipation) for ANY reason to freak out and justify the over inflated price of a barrel.  Kinda like if a camel has a tummy ache in the middle east, they say OMG!  The end is near!  Not due to any actual interruption in supply, the price goes up.  A perfect example of this is when the issues with Libya made headlines.  Although only 2% of the world's oil comes from Libya and 0% supplies the United States, speculators thought it was justifiable to jack the price at the pump up a buck (or more).

The relief... If you want to call it ANY relief, will be the price per gallon will go down to around $3.80 for a gallon of regular unleaded during the "peak driving season", which the EIA says is the period between April 1 and September 30.  I think the EIA’s estimate is FAR off.  I sincerely believe we’ll be flirting with $5.00 per gallon this summer.  We shall see.

If you have a smartphone (iPhone, Android, Blackberry, etc.) the best app AND my best friend in saving money is the app & site,   That's how I find the cheapest gas prices around the Grand Rapids Metro.  For example, I saw the Speedway & BP near my house was at $4.22 for a gallon of regular.  The Speedway at Lake Michigan Dr NW & Collindale is at $4.07 per gallon.  Let's do the math on that... I have a 25 gallon tank.  The money I would save by hitting the second station, opposed to filling-up near my home, I would save $3.75.  Hey, $3.75 is $3.75 better in MY pocket, rather than in those bastards hands!  At least that's how I look at it.