Sept 29 —
JEFF WOLFE email@example.com,writer
Area residents have had their share of difficult times recently, with an earthquake, then Hurricane Irene, then more rain from the remnants of Tropical Storm Lee.
But something else has been falling recently, and it hasn’t come from the sky.
Gas prices continued a downward trend this weekend, falling three cents in the five-county Philadelphia region to an average price of $3.59 per gallon for regular unleaded fuel. That’s down from the $3.66 it was last week and the region’s peak price of $4.05 on May 5. The state average price was at $3.54 Monday. That’s a significant difference from the state average of $3.99, also May 5.
So, while the trend is good for consumers now, how long will it last?
“That’s certainly a big question,” said Jenny Robinson of AAA Mid-Atlantic. “It still costs more than last year, but we should continue to see relief in the fall months. Winter could be another story if demand goes up, so we’ll have to watch out for that. I’d say enjoy it while it lasts.”
Gas prices are dependent on several factors, such as supply and demand and economic outlook. The price per barrel for gas dipped to less than $80 at Friday’s close on the stock market and was fluctuating between $79 and $80 per barrel Monday. The cost per barrel at this time last year, when gas was at $2.67 in the region, was $76 per barrel.
So, if prices continue to fall, or stay about the same, there’s a chance prices could dip below $3 per gallon. One factor in what consumers pay per gallon is how much per barrel a gas station purchased its gas. The station doesn’t want to sell gas it bought at higher price for a lower price, which could be more current. So, it often takes a couple of weeks for the per-barrel prices to influence pump prices.
“They have supply to get rid of and they need to maintain a current price until they go through the supply,” Robinson said. “The consumer isn’t going to see a really, really quick drop at the pump.”
Also helping the reduction in prices was the combination of restored production and a switch to the less expensive autumn-winter blended gasoline.
Another factor was that the Federal Reserve noted a bleak economic outlook by replacing $400 billion in short-term debt with long-term treasuries to try and boost growth.
There are also recession fears around the world attributed to Chinese economic contraction and concerns about instability in the Eurozone.
The lowest listings in Delaware County were $3.49 per gallon at the Gulf stations on Kerlin Street in Chester and on Chester Pike in Norwood. Several other stations in the county had prices listed in the $3.53 to $3.55 range.
Some cheaper prices could be found just south of Delaware County in Claymont, Del., where several stations are listed at $3.40 per gallon.
Several New Jersey stations not far from the Walt Whitman Bridge had prices listed in the $3.20 per gallon range and several stations along Route 322 in New Jersey, across the Commodore Barry Bridge were listed around $3.30.
Consumers can search online for gas prices in their area by going to aaa.opisnet.com/index.aspx .