Gas prices took a dip this week, with a select few stations dropping beneath $4 per gallon as prices fall across the board.
Data from the Oil Price Information Service shared with The Hill shows that the median price of gasoline in the U.S. is about $4.60 per gallon, down from about $4.70 per gallon a week ago.
Average prices are also down to $4.74, down from $4.84 a week ago.
The data shows that a small percentage of stations — 2.3 percent — are below $4 per gallon. A week ago just 0.5 percent were below $4 per gallon.
On Thursday morning, Patrick De Haan of GasBuddy, a price tracking website, noted that 2,535 stations nationwide had prices under $4 a gallon, and that the number “could double or triple in the next week or two.”
As of Thursday morning, he noted, 15 states have at least one station with gas cheaper than $4, although data from the American Automobile Association (AAA) indicates no state has an average gas price below $4.25.
Overall, prices are down about a quarter from recent highs, as they were about $4.92 per gallon a month ago, per AAA, and rose as high as $5 per gallon in June.
Still, this is a small share of gas stations, as the U.S. has more than 100,000 of them.
Prices are continuing what has been a weeks-long downward trend, Devin Gladden, AAA National’s manager for federal affairs, told The Hill.
“One, we’ve seen oil prices decline… they’re still elevated, but we’ve seen them break below $100 per barrel,” Gladden said. “We’ve also seen gas demand weaken a bit and so those two forces have helped to put pressure on prices. And as those trends continue, we’re likely to see prices continue to decline.”
As to whether the country as a whole is likely to trend below $4, Gladden said that would largely depend on how long oil prices remain below $100 a barrel. The market has been particularly volatile, he said, and anything that “could set the markets off” could send prices climbing again.
Certain other factors may accelerate the decline, he added, such as anxieties over a potential recession or the resurgence of COVID-19 cases.
“China is instituting various protocols again, and that’s really causing concern around where global crude demand might be heading,” Gladden said. “And so as those trends continue, and yes, it’s likely that oil prices could continue to decline.”
Likewise, Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis at the Oil Price Information Service, said in an email that the current change is “an interlude and not a trend change.”
“What we saw in the last week was that the market had become overbought,” he said. “Those weaker buyers got flushed out.”
He predicted that between now and the end of next week, prices could drop between 5 and 25 cents, but he also said they would bounce back later in the summer, before cooling down in September.
“This is a month that sees a surge in demand, and really from July 15 through Labor Day, the threats are really, really of epic proportion — you have the hurricane threat, you have the Putin threat,” he said.
However, other experts told The Hill that they believe gasoline prices will decline more amid fears of a recession. De Haan said Wednesday that over the next several weeks, prices would continue to drop.
“If nothing changes, we could see the national average fall 40 to 65 cents a gallon and that would put us very close to a national average that could be closer to $4 a gallon, and that going to mean thousands if not tens of thousands of stations eventually fall back under $4 a gallon,” De Haan said.
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