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Gas prices plunging; flirting with new lows

Staff Reports • Updated Jun 21, 2017 at 2:00 PM

Motorists continued to find some of the lowest gas prices of the year. 

Tennessee gas prices should hit their lowest point of 2017 early this week. On Sunday, the state average slipped to $2.05, after falling 3 cents during the past week. The current average price is 9 cents less than the same time last year.  

The average price for gasoline in Tennessee declined for the 20th consecutive day Sunday, for a total discount of 6 cents. The state average declined by only fractions of a penny per day for most of that time, but the rate of decline rose to a cent a day during the past four days. If that rate continues, the state average would set a new 2017 low in the next couple days. The lowest price so far this year was $2.036, set on March 27. When that price-point is breached, the Tennessee average would become the lowest since December. 

The most expensive gas price averages in Tennessee were in Nashville at $2.09, Memphis at $2.08 and Clarksville-Hopkinsville at $2.05. The least expensive gas price averages in Tennessee were in Chattanooga at $1.95, Johnson City-Kingsport-Bristol at $2.03 and Knoxville at $2.04.

“The plunge at the pump comes as oil prices took a pounding for the third week in a row,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman for AAA. “Markets moved lower after another round of supply data showing high U.S. and global refinery production. American motorists are the big winners here, as they fill their tanks for a summer road trip. These low gas prices should stick around for a while until oil prices change course.”

Crude oil hit eight-month lows last week. Tuesday’s daily settlement of $44.46 on the New York Mercantile Exchange was the lowest since Nov. 14 at $43.32. The price for a barrel of crude has lost nearly $7 per barrel in value since May 24. A drop of that magnitude would normally signal a discount of 17.5 cents at the pump. 

The national average price for a gallon of gasoline averaged $2.296 Sunday. After falling 4 cents during the past week, the national average sits at 4 cents less than this time last year.

The national average is flirting with 2017 lows, according to AAA, whose data is collected from credit card swipes and direct feeds from 120,000 gas stations nationwide, in cooperation with OPIS and Wright Express. The lowest price so far this year was $2.262 Feb. 9. The national average is falling at a rate of 1-cent per day, positioning the price to breach this year’s lows mid-week. Once that happens, the national average would be the lowest since December. 

Meteorologists are watching two storms in the Atlantic Basin, either of which have the potential to push fuel prices higher this week. Oil and gas prices would rise if either of these develop into a major storm, move into the Gulf of Mexico and threaten supply coming from refineries along the Gulf Coast.

The highest national average price for gasoline, so far this year, was $2.42 April 21; the lowest is $2.26 Feb. 9. The highest average price in Tennessee, so far this year, was $2.18 April 20; the lowest is $2.04 March 27.

The national average for gasoline was $2.23 per gallon from June 1 through Aug. 31, 2016. The Tennessee average for gasoline was $2.03 per gallon from June 1 through Aug. 31, 2016.

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