Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - Gas prices are already more affordable in 2024 compared to the start of 2023. Patrick DeHaan is the head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy and he said Americans should save billions of dollars.

“It's been a good close to the year with gas prices broadly declining back below the $3 gallon mark in many areas across the state,” began DeHaan. “The statewide average has perked up slightly, or I should say maybe has bottomed out for the time being. The average price for a gallon of gasoline in Montana is now $2.96 a gallon. Looking closer to Missoula, the average price is right around that level of $2.94 to $2.95 at most stations, although there are a couple of stations a little below that, such as Costco at $2.89 per gallon.”

DeHaan looked back on how 2023 started, with gas prices well over $4.00 per gallon.

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“The average price in Montana after rising to $4.20 late this summer and early fall has come down substantially falling well over $1.25 a gallon," DeHaan said. "Certainly, it hasn't been a bad finish for the year. Looking forward to the new year, we also see reasons to be optimistic. We anticipate the yearly national average will fall from about $3.51 a gallon in 2023 to $3.38 a gallon in 2024, and that's going to save motorists approximately $32 billion.”

According to DeHaan, domestic oil production is at an all-time high.

“The fact of the matter is that domestic US oil production is now at all-time record highs at 13.3 million barrels per day,” DeHaan said. “So that's certainly very good and helping to keep in check the price of gasoline. But all in all, areas like the wildlife refuge (in Alaska) being off limits is not having really any impact on the price of gasoline because very few oil companies even showed interest in drilling there and it would be decades away from potentially bringing oil to the market. They haven't even drilled to see if there's oil in some of these areas.”

DeHaan was highly optimistic about the price and availability of gas for Americans in 2024.

LOOK: See how much gasoline cost the year you started driving

To find out more about how has the price of gas changed throughout the years, Stacker ran the numbers on the cost of a gallon of gasoline for each of the last 84 years. Using data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (released in April 2020), we analyzed the average price for a gallon of unleaded regular gasoline from 1976 to 2020 along with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) for unleaded regular gasoline from 1937 to 1976, including the absolute and inflation-adjusted prices for each year.

Read on to explore the cost of gas over time and rediscover just how much a gallon was when you first started driving.

Gallery Credit: Sophia Crisafulli

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