U.S. motorists are paying less for fuel than at any time since the Great Recession, pump prices nationally dropping to $2 a gallon and, some experts anticipate, that could reach as low as $1 in the coming weeks.
- Gas prices are nearly 50 cents a gallon lower than a year ago, according to GasBuddy.com and AAA.
- U.S. demand for fuel is off by as much as 50 percent as Americans shelter in place and work from home.
- There is no clear bottom as to where gas prices will go before the coronavirus pandemic is brought under control.
Gas prices slipped below the $2 a gallon mark for regular unleaded over the weekend and have continued falling, GasBuddy.com analyst Patrick De Haan noting that, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a collapse in prices, even including the Great Recession.”
Gas hasn’t been nearly this cheap since the Great Recession, but is expected to sink even lower. (Photo: Getty Images)
According to De Haan, there is a “strong possibility” fuel prices could reach as low as 99 cents per gallon in some parts of the country before things settle out. There already are stations in Oklahoma pumping fuel for as little as $1.17 a gallon, with the state average at just $1.58.
Several factors are at work, including the ongoing feud between Saudi Arabia and Russia — two of the world’s largest petroleum producers. But the sharp plunge in U.S. travel is driving the plunge at an ever-faster rate. According to one AAA official, demand for gas is off as much as half from normal levels for this time of year — a period when many Americans would be traveling more as spring approaches.
Fuel prices vary widely by region, the Central U.S. experiencing the sharpest decline. The highest prices are found along the West Coast, the average running $3.017 in California as of midday Monday. Prices along the East Coast have also fallen sharply, with the highest costs found in New York and other mid-Atlantic states.
WHY THIS MATTERS
While millions of Americans are effectively in lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, those who do leave home will find gas is cheaper than it has been since the Great Recession, and prices are expected to tumble even lower in the days and weeks to come.