Oregon drivers are seeing a fourth week of double-digit decreases in pump prices, just in time for more to fill 'er up take to the road for Thanksgiving-week travel, AAA Oregon-Idaho said Tuesday.
Both the Oregon and national averages are at their lowest levels since mid July, the organization said.
The national average for regular unleaded drops two cents this week to $3.44 while Oregon’s statewide average falls 11 cents to $3.60.
AAA Oregon/Idaho Public Affairs Director Marie Dodds says, “Every state and Washington, D.C. has a current price that is lower than mid-September, and in many cases the price is much lower.
"However, nine states (Ill., Ind., Kent., Mich., Minn., New Jersey, New York, Ohio, and Wis.) have seen prices rise in the last week.”
In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, power outages in New York and New Jersey left many stations unable to operate pumps, despite gasoline in their storage tanks.
Long lines developed quickly in many areas with only a limited number of open stations. Even as power was restored to some stations, others with electricity ran out of fuel to sell because of distribution issues from closed petroleum terminals and infrastructure damage.
While stations have continued to reopen as electricity has been restored to many impacted regions, long lines have persisted as distribution and resupply issues are slowly resolved. As of Tuesday morning, gas rationing ended in New Jersey, but continued in New York City and Long Island.
Dodds said this continues to be a distribution problem and not a systemic issue with gasoline supplies. As petroleum terminals return to service, there is plenty of gasoline ready to make its way to stations. Once this happens, AAA expects pump prices in affected areas to follow the rest of the country lower.
AAA continues to predict that the national average price will be $3.25 to $3.40 by Thanksgiving and $3.10 to $3.30 by the end of the year, barring unforeseen events. In Oregon, AAA projects pump prices will be in the $3.45 to $3.60 range by Thanksgiving, and roughly $3.25 to $3.45 by the end of the year.
Lower crude oil prices have added to the recent downward pressure on retail gasoline prices.
With continued signs of global economic weakness and a somewhat stronger U.S. dollar, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil prices have continued to move lower.
At the close of Monday’s formal trading on the NYMEX, WTI crude oil was down 50 cents on the day to settle at $85.57 per barrel. This is down significantly from the recent high of $99 per barrel on September 14. On Tuesday, crude was trading around $85 per barrel, down from $88 a week ago. Crude prices are down about seven percent in the last month.
AAA forecasts 43.6 million Americans (13.8 percent of the population) will travel 50 miles or more from home during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, an increase of 0.7 percent over the 43.3 million people who traveled one year ago. The Thanksgiving holiday travel period is defined as Wednesday, November 21 to Sunday, November 25.
A whopping 90 percent of travelers (39.1 million people) plan to travel by automobile this Thanksgiving. This is a 0.6 percent increase over the 38.9 million people who traveled by auto last year. In the Pacific region, 87 percent of all travelers (6.3 million travelers) will go by car, an increase of 0.6 percent over 2011.
“Gas prices are not expected to have a significant impact on travel volume, but they may have an impact on holiday spending depending on how fast prices drop by Thanksgiving,” says Dodds. “Pump prices are similar to where they were a year ago but still remain high in comparison to historical trends.”
National Average (Regular) Highest Recorded Avg. Price Date
Current $3.440 Regular Unleaded: $4.114 7/17/08
Month Ago $3.794
Year Ago $3.422
Current Week Ago Month Ago Year Ago Avg. Price Date
Oregon Statewide $3.602 $3.708 $4.080 $3.705 $4.294 7/03/08