$3 gas is here to stay - analysts
Prices at the pump have dipped recently as the busy driving season came to a close. But analysts predict higher prices next year.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- You better get used to $3 gas.
While the amount of money that Americans shell out at the pump has eased in recent weeks, the average price of a gallon of gasoline has hovered around the $3 threshold.
And analysts say that is likely to continue into next year.
Traditionally, the price of gas peaks during the summer driving season, then gradually tapers off as the weather cools, then starts climbing again in the spring.
For example, in 2006, gas hit a high of $3.04 in August, then sank 38 percent to $2.20 by October.
This year, prices have followed the seasonal pattern but have remained elevated.
After hitting a high of $3.21 in May, the price of gas declined 17 percent to $2.75 in September. Since then, prices have shot back up above $3.
Gas prices have been pressured by the relatively high price of crude oil, which has flirted with $100 a barrel in recent months and is up 50 percent in the past year.
Even though crude prices have backed away from the $100 mark in recent weeks, the current price is still abnormally high.
"Eight-eight dollars is still a heck of a lot to pay for a barrel of crude oil," says Stephen Schork, publisher of the newsletter the Schork Report.
In a recent report, AAA fuel analyst Geoff Sundstrom wrote that the national average gas price "will stay about where it is now" through the end of the year, barring any significant change in the price of oil.
However, Sundstrom said Thursday that he sees some recent signs that make him believe oil prices could come down, but that prices will still be high "on a historical level."
For drivers, the only numbers that really matter are the ones that hang on clapboard signs at filling stations.
"With oil prices hovering near $90," Schork said, "gas is not likely to go below $3 a gallon."