BOSTON – After painfully high gas prices this year, some relief may be on the way in 2023, but not during the summer.

The national average price of gas in 2023 is predicted to drop nearly 50 cents per gallon from 2022, to $3.49, according to GasBuddy’s 2023 Fuel Outlook released Dec. 28. Continuing improvement in refinery capacity will help decrease gasoline and diesel prices, although uncertainty remains amid Russia’s ongoing war on Ukraine and continuing economic concerns.

A $4 national average remains possible before and during the summer driving season.

The highest gasoline prices are forecast to be seen in June, with an estimated peak of up to $4.19 per gallon on average. Diesel prices are forecast to average $4.12 in 2023, beginning the year at their highest level and then rebounding as high as $4.30 per gallon in June.

Highlights from GasBuddy’s 2023 Fuel Outlook:

  • The national average price of gas could decrease early in the year as demand remains seasonally weak, followed by a rise that starts in late winter, bringing prices to the $4 per gallon range in time for summer.
  • Barring unexpected challenges, prices in 2023 should return to normal seasonal fluctuations, rising in the spring, and dropping after Labor Day into the fall.
  • Although most major U.S. cities will see prices top around $4 per gallon, areas of California like San Francisco and Los Angeles could again experience near $7 gas prices in the summer of 2023 if refineries struggle under mandates of unique formulations of gasoline.
  • Americans are expected to spend an estimated $470.8 billion on gasoline in 2023, down $55 billion from 2022. The estimated yearly household gasoline expense will also fall by $277 to $2,471.

“2023 is not going to be a cakewalk for motorists. It could be expensive,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy. “The national average could breach $4 per gallon as early as May – and that’s something that could last through much of the summer driving season. Basically, curveballs are coming from every direction. Extreme amounts of volatility remain possible but should become slightly more muted in the year ahead. I don’t think we’ve ever seen such an amount of volatility as we saw this year, and that will be a trend that likely continues to lead to wider uncertainty over fuel prices going into 2023.”