The dip in gas prices that started nationwide last week has finally started to work its way onto priceboards at local pumps in Southwest Florida.
While the national average has dropped for much of the last two weeks, it took until recent days for those savings to make their way to drivers around town, but they’re here.
The average fill-up in Lee County was $2.55 per gallon on Tuesday, according to the American Automobile Association, down nine cents from a week ago. In Naples, the drop is a little less pronounced, down two cents to $2.66. Statewide, gas prices have dropped seven cents on the week to $2.56 per gallon.
The national average was $2.53 on Tuesday.
Analysts say that rising inventories have helped stem the tide of rising prices in recent weeks – as domestic and Canadian production have continued to rise. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported domestic production at over 10.2 million barrels per day, the highest rate in nearly half a century.
GasBuddy’s senior petroleum analyst Dan McTeague says the explosion in production in the west has been keeping supply ahead of demand, limiting the hopes of OPEC nations that cutting production would eliminate that oversupply.
“[T]he consensus appears to be leaning towards the notion that the spectacular rise in U.S. shale production and growing output from other non-OPEC countries like Canada may prevent attaining a global oil balance, with supply growth outpacing demand, frustrating any hope that oil can reach $70 a barrel anytime soon,” McTeague writes. “If $60 dollars makes most producers efforts profitable, look to that value remaining for the next year or beyond.”
But while oil plays a big part in fuel prices, it isn’t the only factor. Gas prices are expected to rise going into March as refineries shut down for annual maintenance and switch to more expensive to produce summer fuel blends.
“Although motorists may see additional discounts at the pump this week, this downward trend has a limit,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman for AAA’s The Auto Club Group. “AAA expects gas prices will shoot-up 20-30 cents between March and May, as refineries conduct seasonal maintenance and switch to summer-blend gasoline.”
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