Gas Prices Officially Fall Below Three Bucks

Prices Slip As Crude Falls Below $80 Per Barrel

Gas price trend for week of November 3, 2014
Gas prices officially fell below the crucial $3.00 level in the latest EIA price survey. However, prices in many regions have been below that threshold for a few weeks. In some urban areas, like at the South Florida gas station pictured below, that price point is just being seen.

The U.S. average price for a gallon of gas is now officially below the $3.00 per gallon threshold, according to the latest pricing survey from the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The E.I.A. reports shows over half of all survey regions now average under that same benchmark.

The highest price for gas is still being paid on the West Coast of the U.S.; however, even in that survey district, the price of a gallon of regular unleaded is down to $3.24. Remove expensive California from the formula, and the West Coast average is, itself, only $3.13, in line with other regions where the price of gas remains above the $3.00 mark, including New England and the Rocky Mountain states.

The plunge in retail gas prices tied to the steep decline in recent weeks of the price of crude oil. Both domestic crude, West Texas Intermedia, and the overseas benchmark, Brent Light Sweet Crude, are down significantly from their early-summer highs. WTI is even trading below $80 per barrel, the first time it has been that low in 30 months, according to CNBC.

Gas prices in Oakland Park, Florida on November 2, 2014

In the meantime, some hedge fund managers are calling for short-term prices to remain low and move lower. Andy Lipow of Lipow Oil Associates told CNBC earlier today he expects the average gas price in the U.S. to be $2.80 by the Thanksgiving holiday. That would certainly be great news for drivers hitting the road during that critical travel weekend. If that prediction holds true, that price point would also be 91¢ less than the peak price earlier this year. The U.S. average topped off at 3.71 at the end of April.

Diesel Prices Fall, But Not As Fast As Unleaded

Truckers and other drivers of diesel-powered vehicles are experiencing a break at the pump, too; however, the price declines for diesel have not been as steep as those for their gasoline-powered counterparts. Diesel fell only about a penny per gallon during the past week, much smaller than the six-cent decline for regular unleaded gas.
Even so, the price of gas for all vehicles, whether gasoline or diesel, is down significantly from a year ago. For regular gas, the cost of a gallon of fuel is now 27¢ less than last year; diesel is down over 23¢ from this period in 2013.


Gas Prices Poised To Slide Below $3.00

Prices Continue Their Autumn Fall Gas price trends for week of October 27, 2014

The nationwide average price for a gallon of regular unleaded fell to $3.06 during the past week, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. That figure is down six cents from the previous week. As with all weekly surveys, this week’s E.I.A. report shows some regions enjoyed a larger decline, particularly the West Coast, where prices fell 10¢ per gallon to settle at a regional average of $3.32.

The cheapest regional prices were found across the Gulf Coast region, once again, where the average retail cost for gas is now only $2.83 per gallon. Part of the reason for the decline in prices is the high output of U.S. shale production and a slowing global demand. The price of crude oil futures, particularly West Texas Intermediate, has fallen dramatically since its summer highs. Price have been trading in a narrow range for days, flirting with the potential of falling below the $80 per barrel threshold.

Year Over Year, Gas Is Significantly Cheaper

That has been good news for drivers. The cost of gas has fallen so much in the past several weeks, the cost of fuel is now anywhere from 17¢ to 30¢ per gallon cheaper than at this time last year, depending on the survey region. That good news extends to truckers, too, who are also paying substantially less this year for diesel fuel.

Overall, the price of diesel has not fallen as dramatically as gas prices in recent weeks; however, the year-over-year price difference of diesel fuels is identical to the price of gasoline. For both types of fuel, the U.S. average price is 24¢ cheaper than 2013’s rate.

There are indications retail prices could push even lower, especially if crude oil prices continue their free-fall. In fact, overseas crude oil prices, which have also fallen substantially, may not have the power to reverse course with the same gusto as in previous years. The reason is a decline in the pricing power member nations of OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

The reason comes back to U.S. shale production, according to Jeff Currie of Goldman Sachs. Mr. Currie made his comments on CNBC, telling reporters that the United States has more power to influence price swings.