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LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) – As the economy looks towards 2022, experts say gas prices are expected to rise.

Patrick de Haan with GasBuddy said this is due to a variety of factors, but mainly an unstoppable rise in demand.

“People are fed up with having to restrict their travel for COVID. We’re seeing people get out and about. The only thing that could really upend the increase in demand is if government starts to issue requirements,” De Haan told FOX 56. But that doesn’t appear to be likely. Unlike the surge caused by the delta variant this time last year, the omicron variant is not leading local or state governments to take as drastic action.

“Only in the spring of this year did we really start to see the economy recovering, now it appears that the omicron variant is not causing the same reaction as what we saw a year ago during the huge surge in COVID then,” De Haan said. “Against a backdrop of very strong demand, oil supply is still catching up and that imbalance, that drop, in production from the onset of the pandemic is why Americans can expect to pay more at the pump in the year ahead. Simply because demand continues to exceed supply and it’s a problem that could get worse before it gets any better.”

De Haan said the current national gas average of roughly $3 could reach as high as $4 by April. Kentucky, however, is in a better position than other states.

“Prices in Kentucky are far below the national average, about 30 cents lower today. So while the national average could breach that 4 dollar-a-gallon mark, for now it appears unlikely that Kentucky would reach that mark,” De Haan said.

However, if that trend remains the same it would still put Kentucky gas prices at an average of $3.70 by the spring.

“It’s gonna be a strain on everyone, when prices keep going up and everything keeps going up, it’s gonna be costly for everyone, so yeah it’s gonna be a problem,” Garrett Morton, a Lexington-area driver told FOX 56.

De Haan said oil production is expected to catch up from the pandemic by the end of 2022, which would hopefully signal the return of lower prices at the pump.