US: gas prices go up in 2014 image

Though gas prices ended the year well below their 2013 peak, 2014 is off to a bad start, motorists in much of the country paying the highest price on record for the start of the year.

According to AAA, the week began with prices across the U.S. averaging $3.31 a gallon for regular no-lead gas. It was the fifth consecutive January 1 that Americans paid more at the pump than the year prior and the fourth straight year with a new record to start the year. The national average prices to begin 2011, 2012 and 2013 were $3.07, $3.28 and $3.29 respectively.

There have been a number of recent reports suggesting that with oil production rising – especially in the U.S. – the cost of fuel could hold steady or even decline over the next several years. But as the holiday season comes to an end, motorists aren’t catching a break.

The U.S. Energy Information Agency noted in a report released last month that the production of gasoline in the U.S. is now at its highest level in more than 30 years. U.S. gasoline production increased 4.3% to 9.72 million barrels a day in the week ended Dec. 20, the most in data going back to 1982, according to the EIA, which noted domestic crude oil as U.S. production is also at its highest level in 25 years. At the same, the fuel economy of new vehicles continues to improve.

The rising national average has been reflected across the country. Motorists in every state are paying more at the pump than one week ago, and, while prices in four states have declined a penny or two per gallon over the last two weeks, motorists in four states have experienced more than 20-cent jumps during the same span.