If you’re heading out for a long drive this holiday weekend, you might find thanks in seeing family and friends—and in seeing that you’re spending a lot less on gasoline this year.
The price of gas has plunged. Retail prices for gasoline are nearing a four-year low, with no sign yet of a slowdown in the downward slide of pump prices that’s been happening since July.
The national average price for regular unleaded, according to AAA, has now fallen for more than 60 consecutive days—and as of this past Monday it was down to $2.81 per gallon (or $2.82 according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, EIA). That’s 46 cents below the national-average price a year ago, 25 cents less than a month ago, and seven cents less than just a week ago.
November is the fourth consecutive month in which pump prices have been significantly below the same months in 2013, 2012, and 2011.
50 cents a gallon less than last Thanksgiving, in many states
On a state basis, gas prices are the lowest in South Carolina and Missouri ($2.57 per gallon), followed by Mississippi ($2.58) and Texas ($2.60). And in 12 states, the average pump price is more than 50 cents below last year’s average at this time.
The sustained price drop is attributed to an abundance of petroleum on the global market, in part due to, according to the EIA: “the combination of robust U.S. crude oil production growth, a return of Libyan production (despite recent setbacks), weakening expectations for the global economy (particularly in China), and seasonally low refinery demand.”
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Such a state of oversupply might not last much longer, as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) is slated to meet Thursday to discuss either cutting or maintaining current production levels. But it’s also possible that, if sanctions against Iran are relaxed, based on an upcoming meeting, that even more supply could be released to the global market, putting further downward pressure on prices.
Smooth sailing into next year, according to projections
Current projections indicate that we should see mostly level prices well into next year, with only a slight version of the typical rise in pump prices in the summer months.
Be prepared for a lot of traffic out there this year, however. According to AAA, 41.3 million Americans will go more than 50 miles from home by car. That’s the highest level since 2007.