MANATEE -- Gas prices continue to fall at a rate of a half-cent a day, despite increases in the price of oil last week -- and warnings that the trend may reverse itself in a few weeks.
Retail gasoline prices in the Bradenton-Sarasota area fell 3.2 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $1.78 a gallon Monday, according to GasBuddy's daily survey of 308 area gas outlets. This compares with the national average that has fallen 2.5 cents per gallon in the last week to $1.80 a gallon.
Crude prices rose more than $3 last week, while the national average dropped 3 cents. Pump prices have fallen 25 out of the past 30 days. The current average price for a gallon of regular unleaded is $1.83 in Florida.
Prices in Bradenton-Sarasota were 20.9 cents per gallon lower than the same day one year ago and are 18 cents per gallon lower than a month ago.
"February looks to start the month with gasoline prices averaging under $1.80 a gallon nationally, the lowest level since Jan. 16, 2009," said Patrick DeHaan, GasBuddy.com senior petroleum analyst. "Crude oil prices have rebounded back above $30 per barrel in the last two weeks, and with more talk of an organized cut in oil output between some of the world's largest producers, there may be more upside potential in the future, should those talks pan out.
"For now, due to a lag time from rising oil prices, gasoline prices in many areas may continue to drift lower, but don't be caught by surprise if in a few weeks they revert and move higher," DeHaan added. "Refiners have already begun some winter maintenance, and while supply of winter gasoline is abnormally high, once that inventory is liquidated, I fully expect gasoline prices to march higher."