Gas Prices Drop to 12-Year Low for July

Michael Green Contact TileThe national average for regular, unleaded gasoline has fallen for 35 out of 36 days to $2.21 per gallon and sits at the lowest mark for this time of year since 2004. Gas prices continue to drop in most parts of the country due to abundant fuel supplies and declining crude oil costs. Average prices are about 55 cents less than a year ago, which is motivating millions of Americans to take advantage of cheap gas by taking long road trips this summer.

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The best news for consumers is that gas prices have once again dropped below $2 per gallon in many parts of the country, which is something that drivers have not seen during the summer in more than a decade. About 1 in 4 U.S. stations are selling gas for less than $2 per gallon today, and consumers can find at least one station selling gas for less than $2 per gallon in 36 states.

Gas prices likely will remain relatively low compared to recent years for the remainder of the summer. U.S. crude oil supplies are about 13 percent higher than a year ago, while gasoline stocks have increased to 240 million barrels as refineries produce significant quantities of fuel. This is the highest ever mark for gasoline supplies during the month of July, according to Department of Energy records.

Despite paying the lowest seasonal prices in 12 years, there is always the possibility that unexpected events could lead to higher prices later this summer. For example, crude oil costs could rise due to disruptions in supply, stronger than expected economic growth or geopolitical tensions overseas. In addition, regional prices could increase due to refinery problems, production cuts, stronger than anticipated demand or hurricanes that impact distribution and production.

Quick Stats

  • The national average price of gas is down a fraction of a cent for the day, three cents for the week, 13 cents for the month and 55 cents compared to a year ago.
  • Average gas prices are below $2 per gallon in seven states today including: South Carolina ($1.88), Mississippi ($1.97), Oklahoma ($1.97), Tennessee ($1.97), Alabama ($1.97), Arkansas ($1.98) and Missouri ($1.996).
  • The West Coast continues to be the most expensive market for gasoline, including the only six states in the nation where drivers are paying more than $2.50 on average: California ($2.85), Hawaii ($2.82), Washington ($2.67), Alaska ($2.65), Nevada ($2.55) and Oregon ($2.53).
  • Only 12 percent of U.S. stations are selling gas for more than $2.50 per gallon today.

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West Coast

Gas prices on the West Coast remain the highest in the country. Fortunately for consumers, West Coast prices are much less than a year ago, and drivers in California are saving more than $1 per gallon on average compared to that time: California (-$1.03), Alaska (-82 cents), Nevada (-71 cents), Oregon (-61 cents), Hawaii (-53 cents) and Washington (-53 cents). Last year, California refineries were suffering from a number of unexpected problems, which led to higher gas prices during the peak driving season. Refineries are running more smoothly this summer, which has helped prices remain cheaper than a year ago.

Rockies

Gas prices in the Rockies region have remained relatively stable over the past week with averages dropping by only two cents per gallon or less in states. Even over the past month, the region has experienced little change with prices generally moving only a few cents per gallon.

Great Lakes and Central States

This Great Lakes region has the only three states in the nation that have seen prices increase over the past week: Michigan (+$10 cents), Ohio (+9 cents) and Indiana (+2 cents). The Great Lakes is often the most volatile area in the country for gas prices, and it is not uncommon for prices to move significantly from day to day. At the moment, it looks like average prices are heading downwards yet again. Despite the recent increases, average prices in the region have posted among the largest drops in the country over the past month: Ohio (-36 cents), Illinois (-32 cents), Indiana (-31 cents), Michigan (-27 cents) and Wisconsin (-22 cents). The Central United States meanwhile continues to have some of the cheapest gas prices in the country with averages in both Oklahoma ($1.97) and Missouri ($1.996) below $2 per gallon.

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Mid-Atlantic and Northeast

Gas prices across much of the region continue to drop, and average prices in both Virginia and New Jersey likely will fall below $2 per gallon this week. Washington, D.C. ($2.47), New York ($2.38) and Connecticut ($2.36) have the most expensive averages in the region, though average prices generally are more than 50 cents per gallon cheaper than a year ago.

Gulf Coast and Southeast

Gas prices in many parts of the Southeast have recently dropped near or below $2 per gallon. In South Carolina for example, nearly 90 percent of gas stations are selling fuel for under $2 per gallon today. The bulk of America’s refining capacity is in the Southeastern United States, and abundant production should keep prices relatively low unless there is an unexpected event, such as a major hurricane.

Oil Market Dynamics

WTI oil prices have dipped below $45 per barrel over the past couple of weeks to the lowest levels since late April. Oil continues to drop due to the potential for steady production and abundant supplies. Many analysts have predicted that oil prices could drop even further later this year, which would likely lead to lower gas prices. At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI was up 27 cents to settle at $45.95 per barrel. Prices this morning had headed lower and were briefly below $45 per barrel.

Drivers can find current gas prices along their route with the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. The app can also be used to map a route, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

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