Get ready to pay at the pump; experts predict rise in gas prices

This year kicked off with the highest gas prices Hawaii has seen since 2014.

Experts said prices at the pump will continue to go up.

You may feel it in your wallet if you drive, pay for electricity, and even if you plan on taking a trip.

The price of petroleum has been on the rise since 2016 and shows no sign of stopping.

“I think the price, according to the forecast, it will increase by about five percent in 2018,” said Eugene Tian, the economic research administrator for the Department of Business, Economic Development, and Tourism. DBEDT is Hawaii’s resource center for economic and statistical data.

That five-percent increase could mean the price of gas could go from $3.19 per gallon to $3.35 by the end of the year.

Tian said the price of petroleum has risen consistently since 2016.

One barrel of oil cost roughly $30 in January 2016. Today, a barrel of oil costs over $57.

At the pump, that means we are paying roughly 24 cents more per gallon than we were two years ago, and local drivers are feeling it.

“That’s not good,” Travis White said. “Obviously it’s hurting our wallet, and if we live far from work, we have to pay more.”

White lives near Kapolei and drives into town to work. He said he has to fill up at least once, if not twice a week, and he carpools.

“We have to,” White said. “That’s the only way, just to get to work every day.”

Any increase in the cost of oil often has a ripple effect.

In addition to impacting local residents through transportation, it could potentially affect the tourism industry by driving up the cost of airline tickets.

That could mean fewer tourists coming to Hawaii, which could in turn hurt the local economy.

According to Tian, the increase in gasoline may be offset by an increase in the availability of tickets to Hawaii.

“Because of the supply of the air seats (going up), there will be competition on price,” Tian said. “There will be downward pressure. So with the increase on the oil price, there might be an upper pressure. There might be a wash. We may not have a big impact on the visitor industry.”

We also learned that the price of electricity may be impacted, but not as badly as it has in the past.

“Years ago, the electricity generated using oil was 78 percent and now is about 66 percent,” Tian said. “It’s because of the renewables. It’s because we currently have 25 percent of our electricity generated using renewable sources.”

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