(WANE) Gasoline prices have continued to decline amidst volatility in the oil prices, with GasBuddy.com reporting five states currently have averages under $2.00 a gallon: South Carolina ($1.89), Mississippi ($1.92), Alabama ($1.95), Louisiana ($1.98) and Tennessee ($1.99).
“The national average gasoline price had a solid decline in the last week, thanks to renewed pessimism in the oil patch after the Fed’s decision to hold interest rates steady,” said Patrick DeHaan, GasBuddy senior petroleum analyst. “While three midwestern states- Indiana, Ohio and Michigan- saw modest hikes associated with a continued behavior of spikes and ebbs, the rest of the nation’s 47 states saw gasoline prices declining. Alaska saw a 17 cent decline, South Dakota a 13 cent decline and Oregon an 11 cent decline to lead the nation. Nearly 1 in 4 stations are now selling gasoline under $2/gallon, and it looks like that should only grow in the weeks ahead. With much of the country now on winter gasoline, there is less pressure on prices during the upcoming fall maintenance season at the nation’s refineries. I continue to believe that the national average will fall under $2/gallon, perhaps even sooner than expected,” DeHaan said.
While five states see averages under $2.00 a gallon, nearly 1 in 4 stations nationally are selling gasoline under $2.00 a gallon, and $1.999 remains the most common price for regular across the United States. The landscape last year was much different: 100% of stations were selling over $2.50 a gallon, with 95.8% selling over $3.00 a gallon.
Monday’s average gasoline price of $2.280 a gallon is the lowest September 21st price since 2004, when gasoline prices on this date averaged $1.85 a gallon. Drivers are averaging savings of $1.05 nationally, but drivers in some areas are coming out even better: Hawaii is down $1.30 a gallon versus a year ago, while Connecticut is down $1.21 and Vermont down $1.20. On the short end of the spectrum, motorists in Nevada are only saving 56 cents versus a year ago, while California is just 68 cents lower than a year ago. Utah follows with prices 76 cents lower than a year ago.
Motorists on the West Coast are likely to see some of the larger declines yet to come as ExxonMobil seeks to bring its Torrance refinery back online. In addition, areas of the West have not yet switched to cheaper summer gasoline, which generally is accompanied with further declines.
Barring any major shifts in oil markets, gasoline prices are expected to continue moving lower in the days ahead as supply and demand become the driving force. Demand for motor gasoline weakens during the autumn while leading to increases in gasoline supply, putting continued downward pressure on pump prices. Meanwhile, areas of the Midwest that had seen prices hike last week will likely see prices again moving down, following their traditional price cycling behavior.
Oil prices remain a significant wild card, with average daily changes of $1.60/bbl in the last month, as questions remain about Iran, China’s economy, the Federal Reserve’s decision on raising interest rates, and oil and gasoline inventory data.