James Moore fills up his van at the Valero gas station on St. Paris Pike Tuesday. Compared to this time last year, Americans have an extra $110 million a day in their pockets they’re not spending on gas, according to GasBuddy.com, which watches prices at more than 133,000 stations in the U.S. and surveyed 391 area stations. Bill Lackey/Staff
Photo: Bill Lackey
Photo: Bill Lackey

Gas prices dip below $2 at area stations

Gas prices on Thursday dipped to $1.95 a gallon at several gas stations in the Miami Valley on Thursday, the second time this week prices have been below $2.

It’s only the second time in the past five years that gas prices have dropped below $2. The first time was in early January, according to GasBuddy.com, which analyzes national gas data.

Thursday’s average price of $2.14 a gallon in the region was down $1.25 from a year ago and 37 cents lower than a month ago. The national average of $2.37 is seven cents lower than a month ago and $1.06 cheaper than last year at this time, according to AAA’s fuel gauge report.

“We’ve seen gas prices in kind of a free fall and we think prices will continue to fall, but they will fall more slowly and correct and go up,” said AAA public affairs manager Cindy Antrican.

The low price Thursday didn’t last long at one gas station, though.

Motorists at the Marathon station on South Main Street in Englewood watched as the pump price there jumped from $1.95 to $2.29 Thursday afternoon, and were happy to have been filling up before the price hike.

“Lucky me, Christmas came early,” said Bud Owens of Dayton.

The gradual dip and then a big jump in prices only to tick down again over a week or so, has been the trend over nearly the last two years in the volatile Midwest, Antrican said.

It’s very “weird” behavior, according to Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at Gasbuddy.com

“I think what happened is over the past few week as prices slid, stations started dropping prices a little bit faster than their wholesale price, leading to this behavior we seen the last few years: Price cycling. Stations drop their price too close to where their actual cost is, there wasn’t enough margin in it, so you are seeing the stations that dropped too low, go to $2.29,” said DeHaan.

Crude oil prices, the end of the summer driving season, and the switch to winter blends will help keep prices low, Antrican said.

“The winter blends are cheaper to produce and they are cheaper at the pump, but what you are going to find is that the maintenance process, when it goes off without a hitch is great, but we have to anticipate that there are going to be hiccups and those can affect prices at the pump quickly because it cuts into supply,” Antrican said.

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