Is it possible the average price at the pump could be below $3 a gallon by the time leaves begin to change?
Absolutely, according to experts who follow fuel price trends, and some areas of Georgia have already broken the barrier. At one station in Macon on Friday, unleaded regular was selling for $2.90, and in Duluth and Suwanee prices were as low as $3.04 and $3.05, respectively.
Higher oil production, an existing ample supply of fuel, falling crude oil prices, lukewarm consumer demand and a drop in contracts for wholesale delivery of fuel to gas stations in the fall are the right ingredients for a further drop in gas prices.
Barring any unforeseen calamity that might disrupt production or distribution, such as a hurricane that would interrupt delivery from the Gulf of Mexico or block tankers from arriving in Savannah, or a major conflict in the Middle East, the price trend should continue, even with the arrival of summer and more vehicles on the road for vacations.
“[T]he market is suggesting gas below $3 by Halloween, and certainly by Thanksgiving,” Tom Kloza of the Oil Price Information Service, told USA Today. Some experts, however, note that gas prices typically drop in the fall before rising again as winter fuel demands kick in.
While consumers in Macon may be seeing prices already below $3, AAA spokeswoman Jessica Brady said it will be a while before prices that low become widespread in metro Atlanta.
“I think prices will continue to trend as they have,” Brady told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I think we could dip below $3 in some areas. I don’t think we are going to see a below-$3 average across the board.”
According to the OPIS’ latest figures, the average price for regular unleaded gas Friday in metro Atlanta was $3.28, which is down 21 cents from a month ago and 29 cents from a year ago. Regular unleaded was already as low as $3.04 and $3.05 at Costco and Kroger stations, respectively, in Duluth and Suwanee, according to Atlantagasprices.com. Gas was highest in Atlanta, especially in the northeast and northwest, with some stations selling regular unleaded for as high as $3.79.
The national average price for regular unleaded is currently $3.47. Earlier this year there were fears that gas prices could hit $5 a gallon this year, mainly due to Mideast tensions, oil refinery glitches that hindered supplies and energy speculation.