Gas prices going up again

Dollar bill sticking out of gas tank

After falling for five straight months, energy experts say the national average could hit $2 or more per gallon by spring, according to the New York Times.

That's because oil prices rose more than 40% between Dec. 19, when they reached a $33-a-barrel low, and early 2009.

Why?

Israel's invasion of Gaza has increased the possibility of a disruption in Middle East oil supplies, and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries has agreed to cut production.

With gasoline consumption down as much as 9% some weeks last fall, refineries also are producing less gasoline.

But as gas prices fell below $2 a gallon, Americans began driving again. One recent week showed a slight increase in gasoline sales compared with the same week the year before.

"There will be a real spike in gasoline prices coming in the next four to six weeks," Chris Ruppel, an energy analyst at Execution, a brokerage and research firm, told the Times.

"We are witnessing a sea change in energy market sentiment as Americans appear to be returning to some of their old driving habits just as geopolitical risk is once again a factor in crude prices."

That's bad news if you have a long commute. In December, drivers who buy 50 gallons of gas a month had been saving $4 a day compared with what they were paying in July.