As oil prices keep falling, gasoline prices continue to tumble as well, and the forecasts for how low they can go keep changing.
AAA predicted on Monday, when U.S. oil was trading at just less than $66 a barrel, that the national average for regular unleaded gas “could test $2.50 by Christmas.” But after oil prices sank to a five-year low of $60 Wednesday, AAA said on Twitter, “Gas prices may drop even faster than we expected.”
The national average for regular was down to $2.62 Thursday, according to the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report, and closing in on the lowest level since 2009. The average dropped 11 cents in the past week and 31 cents during the past month and has fallen $1.08 from the 2014 peak of $3.70 set on April 28.
Despite steady — and heady — declines in oil prices and pump prices in recent months, AAA cautioned that there are limits. Oil accounts for about two-thirds of pump prices, and it takes about a $10-per-barrel drop in the price of oil for pump prices to fall 25 cents.
“Consumers can expect to see the price at the pump tick lower as we approach the New Year [sic]. However, crude oil would have to fall by another $25 to $30 per barrel to cause the national average to drop below the $2 per gallon threshold this winter, which remains unlikely,” AAA said in a release.
But pump prices have declined for 77 straight days, falling 72 cents in that span. Because prices at the pump lag oil prices by a couple of weeks, motorists haven’t seen the full effect of the steep fall in oil prices that started on Thanksgiving Day and continued to rock Wall Street this week.
Gas was already below $2 a gallon at some stations in Oklahoma City and elsewhere, and more locations were likely to soon dip below that level. GasBuddy.com, for example, reported that regular was down to $2.05 at stations in the St. Louis area.
Prices for regular averaged less than $3 in all states except Hawaii ($3.76), Alaska ($3.42) and New York ($3.04). California and Vermont recently slipped below $3, both for the first time since 2010. A year ago, only four states averaged less than $3.
Missouri had the lowest statewide average for regular at $2.33. A year ago, the national average for regular was $3.26, 64 cents more than now, and premium was $3.61, 59 cents more than now. The $3.46 national average for diesel fuel is 39 cents less than on Dec. 11, 2013.
Cars.com photo by Evan Sears