WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. -- As if the pain at the pump weren't bad enough in 2011, experts warn 2012 could be even worse when it comes to gas prices.
Because January is typically one of the cheapest times of the year for fuel prices, and because we are now paying the highest January prices ever, analysts see a big increase on the way as we head toward summer.
2 On Your Side spoke with GasBuddy.com Senior Petroleum Analyst Gregg Laskowski, who described the higher-than-normal prices as something "we think is going to be with us for quite a long time."
Laskowski said, on average, prices peak more than $0.90 from January lows. That leads him to predict Buffalo could hit around $4.50 sometime in 2012. Of course, he noted there are many factors that could change that.
Laskowski and AAA of Western and Central NY Vice President Wally Smith agreed that high taxes are partly to blame for Buffalo's high average. While the national average is around $3.25 for regular unleaded, Western New York's average is around $3.60.
Smith said the overall increase in the price of crude right now is due to economic factors and also rising tensions in the Middle East. Iran has threatened to shut down the Straight of Hormuz, which is a crucial shipping route for oil in the Arabian Sea. A third of the world's oil that travels by sea goes through that area.
"It's no small thing if the Strait of Hormuz gets blocked," Smith said. "That is a big deal to the world oil market."
For more on this story, check out the video player to see the full report from 2 On Your Side's Michael Wooten and Photojournalist Bill Boyer