Consumers can breathe a little lighter as gas prices have fallen for the first time in 2013. Over the past few weeks, the Lundberg Survey reports a six cent drop bringing the average price to lower than they were this week in 2012. The Lundberg survey said the national average price of self-serve, regular gasoline was $3.7394 per gallon on March 8, down from $3.7950 on Feb. 22. This is notable as, for the first eight weeks of the year, prices have been higher than during the corresponding weeks in 2012. “Gasoline prices have continued to remain relatively stable in the last week, falling a few cents per gallon, providing well-needed relief to motorists,” said GasBuddy.com senior petroleum analyst Patrick DeHaan. “Perhaps more noteworthy, however, is the fact that current average gasoline prices have now fallen under their year-ago levels. And perhaps the best news is that the national average will likely continue to decline in most areas east of the Rockies in the week ahead as wholesale gasoline prices have given up ground.” He continues, “while the national average hasn’t seen much movement, some areas of the country have seen volatility continue, mainly in the Great Lakes states where prices may again be poised to rise in the next couple of days as wholesale prices reverberate as refineries continue their operates websites that track gasoline prices at over 140,000 gasoline stations in the United States and Canada.
State-by-state, different savings have been felt. North Dakota being the only exception, every state sees lower gas prices than one year ago today. Nine states see prices at least 20 cents lower and motorists in one state enjoy prices over 30 cents lower.
Trilby Lundberg reports this price drip is due in part to easing crude oil prices, but refiners have dropped wholesale prices for retailers. “The price of crude oil has eased lately due to the strong U.S. dollar and increasing U.S. reserves, which are often cheaper than imported crude,” Lundberg said, “but since crude accounts for about 71 percent of the price at the pump, any unforeseen increase in crude prices could turn prices higher, she cautioned. “It was practically in the cards that retailers would be able to pass through price cuts to motorists,” Lundberg said. A survey of 2,500 gas stations shows that Los Angeles maintains the highest gas prices at $4.23 a gallon.
The expectation is that gas prices will drop another 10-12 cents per gallon in the next few weeks because current profit margins with refiners and retailers are strong enough to support it. “Competition is fierce among those selling gasoline,” Lundberg said. “So when it is possible to cut, there is a terribly strong reason to do so.”
Gas station owners had requested that ARESEP (The Public Services Regulatory Authority) increase gas prices, but ARESEP ruled on the side of the consumer and lowered prices. José Miguel Masís, president of the Chamber of Fuel Businesses, said Monday that they “oppose the decrease and could call a general strike of all 352 gas stations across the country.” This could result in lay-offs for gas station workers.