Crude oil is a commodity -- an item that's the same no matter who produces it but the price can fluctuate depending on various conditions. Those who trade in oil futures, or the price of oil at a later date, can have a huge effect on the supply of oil. In addition to futures trading, unforeseen events can have a negative impact on the supply of oil. An explosion at a refinery, for example, or the recent disaster with the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico can hamper the supply of oil and drive up its price.
One way to predict whether gas prices will increase is to monitor the trading of crude oil on the New York Mercantile Exchange, or NYMEX, the market where commodities are traded in the U.S. You could also get news from a service like OPIS, the Oil Price Information Service, or several other sources of information on the oil market.
Many news services or web sites claim that gas prices are nearly ready to increase wildly; but take these predictions with a grain of salt. Some of them could be scams or could lead to bad investment decisions. It's best to stick with reliable, proven news outlets. And remember, like any commodity, no one can perfectly predict the future of gas prices. However, staying on top of current trends can be a good way to save money at the pump.
For more information about calculating fuel costs and other related topics, follow the links below.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- Top 10 Everyday Car Technologies that Came from Racing
- How Hypercars Work
- How Auto Transport Works
- How Car Computers Work
- How Driverless Cars Will Work
- How Automotive Production Lines Work
- Can you assemble your own car?
- What makes a digital car digital?
- What's new in synthetic oil technology?
- Will car repairs in the future financially cripple you?
- AAA. "AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report." (July 15, 2010) http://www.fuelgaugereport.com/
- MapQuest. "National Gas Prices." (July 15, 2010) http://gasprices.mapquest.com/
- OPISNet. "Petroleum News and Pricing." (July 15, 2010) http://www.opisnet.com/
- United States Environmental Protection Agency. "Links to Gasoline Price Data for U.S. Cities." (July 15, 2010) http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/gasprices/states/index.shtml
- Vanderwerp, Dave. "The Truth About EPA City / Highway MPG Estimates - Feature." CarAndDriver.com. August 2009. (July 15, 2010) http://www.caranddriver.com/features/09q3/the_truth_about_epa_city_highway_mpg_estimates-feature
- Woolsey, Matt. "The most expensive cities to buy gas in the U.S." MSNBC.com. Dec. 4, 2007. (July 15, 2010) http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22085640/