The Labor Day holiday weekend brought the lowest gas prices in 12 years, and there’s reason to be optimistic that the cost will continue to get lower as fall approaches.
According to the GasBuddy live tracker, which surveys 308 outlets in the area, prices were averaging $2.16 per gallon for regular unleaded on Tuesday in Manatee County and $2.19 in Sarasota County. That’s about three cents cheaper per gallon than drivers in the Bradenton-Sarasota area paid a week earlier, and a nickel less than this time a year ago.
Gas prices dropped in the days heading into Labor Day weekend for the eighth time in the past 10 years, according to Patrick DeHaan, a senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy. That bodes well for the coming weeks and months as demand decreases for gas, said DeHaan, who predicted upwards of 20 states could enjoy an average of less than $2 per gallon by Halloween.
“The only possible wrench could be a major hurricane that takes aim for the Gulf of Mexico, where many oil rigs and refiners are located, or a sudden cut in oil output from OPEC,” DeHaan said.
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Nationally, the average during the holiday weekend was $2.22, the lowest for the unofficial end of summer since 2004, according to Mark Jenkins, spokesman for AAA – The Auto Club Group.
“Despite the increased gasoline demand from holiday travelers, gas prices actually declined a couple of cents throughout the holiday weekend thanks to lower oil prices,” Jenkins said. “Gas prices in the fall should get even cheaper, because demand declines as Americans return to school and work.”
Moreover, area drivers also enjoyed the lowest gas prices for the summer since in 12 years. From June 1-Aug. 31, the average price per gallon in the Bradenton-Sarasota area was $2.14, which bettered the state average ($2.19) and the national average ($2.23).
“Prices are stable now, but could be somewhat volatile in the next couple weeks, as refineries reduce output and begin seasonal maintenance,” Jenkins said. “By the middle of (September), refineries switch to winter-blend gasoline, which is cheaper to produce, because it contains fewer additives than what the EPA requires for the hotter summer months. Refinery issues are known to happen during maintenance season, which can lead to increased prices at the pump.”