Are lower gas prices a trick or long-term treat?

Published 6:04 am Wednesday, October 31, 2018

LEXINGTON — While continued lower gas prices may be a treat for motorists, AAA says the drops in price could be short-lived. In addition to potential impacts from the mid-term elections, U.S-imposed sanctions on Iran’s crude exports will take effect on Sunday.

Kentucky’s average gas price is now at $2.61, down another 6 cents from last week and putting the Commonwealth on the top 10 list for states seeing the greatest change in gas prices over the past month. Drivers in Lexington are now paying $2.53 on average, about 7 cents less than a week ago. Average gas prices still remain 26 and 31 cents above a year ago for Kentucky and Lexington, respectively.

How expensive gas prices will be in the weeks ahead depends on how the market reacts to early November events. However motorists are not likely to see the high prices seen this summer when the national average stretched to nearly $3.

“Just like the outside temperatures, motorists are seeing gas prices cool off. The last few weeks saw peak refinery maintenance season start to wrap-up and push less expensive gas prices, but the lower prices are not likely to be a long-term trend,” said Lori Weaver Hawkins, AAA Blue Grass manager of public and government affairs. “AAA expects that gas prices will likely start to increase as early as later this week ahead of the Nov. 4 Iran sanctions announcement and the mid-term elections.”

But for now, prices have continued to drop across much of Kentucky during the past week, with a few exceptions. Covington saw prices climb about 4 cents on average, just across the border from Ohio, which saw a statewide average increase of about 7 cents week over week. Henderson in western Kentucky saw a 3-cent climb.

Lexington motorists are now paying $2.53, compared with $2.60 last week and $2.81 a month ago. Despite recent declines, gas prices remain higher than a year ago.

Gas prices are up and down in the central U.S.: Except in Ohio (+8 cents) and Michigan (+3 cents), state gas price averages in the Great Lakes and Central region continue downward. This week, Iowa (-8 cents) saw the largest drop in the country and the region. With a six-cent decrease each, Missouri, Nebraska and Kentucky join Iowa as a top 10 state with the largest change on the week.

The pump prices in Ohio and Michigan are atypical of the nationwide-trend this week and likely due to the general fluctuations seen in this region from time-to-time.

Gas prices are pushing cheaper as regional refinery utilization rates are climbing, signaling refinery maintenance season is starting to wrap-up and gasoline stocks could build. However, the region’s large draw of 1.9 million bbl could mean prices may jump early on this week. At 49.8 million bbl in total, stocks sit at their lowest level in 54-weeks. While low, the region typically sees stocks at this or lower levels around year-end, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) data.

The national gas price average has been dropping slowly and steadily for the past 16-days. At $2.82, the national gas price average is the lowest since mid-September, though declines are not expected to continue. Today’s national average is 3 cents less than last week, 6 cents cheaper than last month and 35 cents more expensive than this time last year.

QUICK STATS

The Nation’s Largest Monthly Changes are: Michigan $2.79 (-20 cents), Iowa $2.68 (-18 cents), Indiana $2.70 (-18 cents), Delaware $2.52 (-17 cents), Oklahoma $2.55 (-17 cents), Wisconsin $2.74 (-16 cents), Missouri $2.52 (-14 cents), Kentucky $2.61 (-14 cents), Washington $2.53 (+13 cents) and Kansas $2.62 (-13 cents).

The Nation’s Top Ten Least Expensive Markets are: Delaware ($2.52), South Carolina ($2.52), Missouri ($2.52), Mississippi ($$2.54), Louisiana ($2.54), Texas ($2.55), Oklahoma ($2.55), Alabama ($2.55), Arkansas ($2.56) and Virginia ($2.58).

AAA offers these tips to motorists to save at the pump:

• If your vehicle’s engine does not require premium or mid-grade fuel, don’t buy it. Using anything other than regular grade is simply a waste of money.

• Don’t top off your gas tank. Stop filling after the automatic nozzle shuts off the second time.

• If you have to replace a gas cap, make sure it is the right one for your car. An ill-fitting cap will increase emissions and trigger the “check engine” light.

• Keep track of gas mileage. If you notice a sudden decrease in fuel economy, have your vehicle checked by a technician to ensure it is operating properly.

• Check for proper tire pressure, which can fluctuate greatly with changing temperatures.

Motorists can find current gas prices along their route with the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. The app can also be used to map a route, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 57 million members nationwide and more than 600,000 members in Kentucky. AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years. The not-for-profit, fully tax-paying member organization works on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information, visit www.aaa.com.