This could be "the year of the gas-pocalypse" analysts tell the Los Angeles Times, "because gasoline prices are the highest ever for the start of the year, and they're on the rise, supercharged by expensive oil and changes in refinery operations."
Indeed, check out some of this reporting and analysis from GasBuddy.com:
-- "2011 closed out as the highest yearly average ever for motor gasoline — $3.513, a whopping 72.6-cents per gallon higher than the average price for 2010."
-- "What's on the radar for 2012 — what could make an impact on gasoline prices? ... First, our economy in North America. If it continues to grow, that would provide upward pressure on prices. ... Second, geopolitical tensions could rise, especially in areas of the Middle East. Libya's crisis may be done and over with, but Iran continues to threaten the West. ... We could see a supply disruption at the most sensitive time of year- spring and summer."
As he accounts for those factors, GasBuddy senior petroleum analyst Patrick DeHaan concludes that "by Memorial Day, the national average will be between $3.86 to $4.13 per gallon, and that prices in 2012 will come close to or set new all-time highs," ABC News' Consumer Report blog says. "If that happens, drivers could spend $200 to $300 more for gas this year."