The American Automobile Association (AAA) expects that gasoline prices across the country will continue to drop through the end of the year, assuming a smooth restart to production following Hurricane Sandy. The association predicts the national average price of gasoline will be between $3.40 and $3.50 a gallon by Election Day and between $3.25 and $3.40 a gallon by Thanksgiving.
“It is possible that gas prices could drop by 40 cents a gallon nationally between now and the end of the year,” said Avery Ash, AAA spokesperson. “A significant decline in gas prices by the holiday travel season would be welcome news for motorists that have paid record-high prices for much of the year.”
Gas prices generally drop in November as demand declines and because refineries are producing less expensive winter-blend gasoline. Average gas prices dropped about 15 cents a gallon last year in November.
Hurricane Sandy should have only a limited effect on gasoline prices, writes Michael Green, AAA public relations manager, in a Nov. 1 posting on the association’s website. The Northeast is a significant gasoline consumer and not a major producer, so it is expected that the decline in demand from people staying home during the storm will outweigh any disruption in gasoline production, writes Green.
The national average price of gasoline on Nov. 1 – $3.507 a gallon – is nine cents less than a week ago, but seven cents more than a year ago, AAA reports.
The five states with the highest prices are: Hawaii ($4.32), Alaska (4.21), California ($4.08), New York ($3.93) and Connecticut ($3.89). The five states with the lowest prices are: Missouri ($3.15), South Carolina ($3.20), Oklahoma ($3.23), Tennessee ($3.28) and Minnesota ($3.30).
AAA’s average gasoline prices are updated daily; up to 120,000 stations are surveyed based on credit card swipes and direct feeds in cooperation with the Oil Price Information Service (OPIS) and WEX Inc. (formerly Wright Express). “Average retail prices” are for a gallon of regular, unleaded gasoline.
The national average price of gasoline dropped 26.2 cents a gallon (6.9 percent) in October, which was the steepest monthly decline since June, AAA notes. This was the fourth monthly decline in gasoline prices this year, and it was the largest decline for the month of October since 2008.
“Gas prices towards the end of October were dropping at the fastest speeds in nearly four years,” said Ash, the AAA’s spokesperson. “If this trend continues as expected, motorists may soon be paying even less than last year to fill up their cars.”
The national average price of gasoline has dropped for 21 straight days, which is the longest consecutive decline since the middle of June, writes Green, AAA’s public relations manager.
The average price of gas dropped by 14 cents (3.8 percent) a gallon from Oct. 19-26, which was the steepest week-over-week decline since the end of 2008.
The average price of gasoline in California has dropped 59.6 cents a gallon (12.8 percent decline) since reaching an all-time high of $4.671 a gallon on Oct. 9. Other states with significant price declines in October included Minnesota (-57¢), Oklahoma (-49¢), Missouri (-45¢) and Kansas (-45¢).
Despite the steep declines in October, gas prices remain at record highs for this time of year. The national average has broken a daily record high for 74 consecutive days since Aug. 20 for a total of 188 days (61 percent) in 2012. The annual average price of gas remains the most expensive on record through the end of October. The average price of gas in 2012 is $3.65 a gallon, which compares to $3.55 a gallon in 2011 and $3.52 a gallon in 2008 through October 31.