Sep. 23, 2013 at 10:48 AM ET
Remember $3 gas? Well the price is headed down and might get back to that level again after more than three years.
The average price for a gallon of gasoline in the United States fell 6.4 cents in the last two weeks, as crude oil declined and refiners passed on the difference to motorists.
Some industry experts believe the price could keep falling, even below $3 per gallon for the first time in three years.
According to the latest Lundberg survey, the average price was about 31 cents lower than a year ago, based on the Sept. 20 survey of some 2,500 retail stations in the 48 contiguous states.
Trilby Lundberg, survey editor, said the rise came alongside a decline in the price of crude oil. Crude has fallen as Libya has produced more and there have been signs of diplomatic progress regarding Syria and Iran.
"California did buck the trend because of some recent hiccups in the California refining capacity affecting the West," Lundberg said. "Prices rose at the pump about 16 cents in California, but the spike has already died as those glitches have already been resolved."
Charleston, South Carolina, had the cheapest gasoline in the survey at $3.14 per gallon, while drivers in San Francisco, paid the most at $4.01 per gallon.
According to another survey, by the American Automobile Association, pump prices are in their usual September decent as demand weakens and supplies increase. But the national average for a gallon of regular unleaded remains well above $3 for the 1,007th day in a row, it said.
“It’s normal for prices to fall in September,” said Mark Jenkins, AAA spokesman. “The summer driving season is over, demand is down, and refineries are switching to the cheaper winter-blend gasoline.”
“Prices could continue to fall another 5 to 10 cents before the end of the month,” Jenkins said. “But it’s unlikely."
GasBuddy.com, which monitors prices across the United States, also forecast cheaper prices to come.
GasBuddy's chief oil analyst Tom Kloza predicts that the fall will see slow but steady attrition in retail gas numbers, thanks to record high U.S. refining rates and consumer demand that will at best match 2012 levels. "Supplies are adequate, and indeed gasoline now typically sells for just a few dollars more than raw crude costs. They’ll go below $3.00 anytime soon.”