MANATEE — Motorists in Florida welcomed the New Year with gasoline selling below $2 a gallon at some filling stations, including $1.99 at Thornton's on State Road 64 in Bradenton.
The lowest gasoline price in Bradenton on Sunday was $2.05 per gallon at RaceTrac, 6319 State Road 64 E., and 8100 S.R. 64; Mobil, 4905 S.R. 64 E.; Thorntons, 4850 S.R. 64 E.; and Citgo, 575 66th St. Court E.
This begins what could be a year of monstrous savings at the pump after record-high oil production in 2014 pushed crude oil and gas prices to the lowest level in six years.
U.S. gasoline prices were $1.11 more expensive just one year ago.
At the beginning of 2014, the national average for regular unleaded was $3.32. Prices rose in the spring due to refinery maintenance and the switch to “summer-blend gasoline,” peaking at $3.70 on April 18.
Prices fluctuated through the summer, before finishing the year on a historic 97-day streak of declines, dropping $1.08 from Sept. 26 – Dec. 31. That streak reached 101 days Sunday, with prices falling a total of $1.13 so far.
“The entire landscape for gas prices has changed in a year,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “People went from squirming at the thought of potentially paying $4 for gasoline, to wondering how soon is too soon to fill their gas tanks so they can get the lowest possible price at the pump? The answer remains, ‘tomorrow is the best day to buy gas,’ because prices are getting cheaper every day.”
U.S. oil production is at its highest level in three decades, which has gutted crude oil and gasoline prices. West Texas Intermediate (the U.S. benchmark) began 2014 at $95.44 a barrel on the NYMEX. WTI peaked at $107.26 on June 20, before falling to $53.27 on Dec. 31, the lowest price since May 2009.
Crude prices first fell below $100 a barrel July 31. WTI dropped $44.61 from Aug. 1 to Dec. 31. During that same time, the national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded fell $1.26.
Overall, AAA estimates Americans saved about $14 billion on gasoline in 2014 compared with 2013 based on monthly prices and consumption.
“This year promises to provide much bigger savings to consumers as long as crude oil remains relatively cheap,” said Jenkins. “It would not be surprising if U.S. consumers save a total of $50 billion to $75 billion on gasoline in 2015 if prices remain low.”
The average motorist now saves nearly $22 for a 15-gallon tank of gasoline, compared with what they paid when prices were at their peak in April. The EIA forecasts American families could save as much as $550 this year on annual gasoline expenses compared with last year. In 2014, the average savings were $120 compared with the year before.
Gasoline prices are forecast to remain much lower this year. The EIA forecasts the national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded to be $2.60 -- 74 cents below last year's average.
Average price for regular unleaded in 2014:
National - $3.34Florida - $3.34Georgia - $3.26Tennessee - $3.14
Price Jan. 1, 2014 vs. Dec. 31, 2014:
National – $3.32 (Jan 1) vs. $2.26 (Dec 31 – lowest price of the year)Florida – $3.42 (Jan 1) vs. $2.36 (Dec 31 – lowest of the year)Georgia – $3.24 (Jan 1) vs. $2.24 (Dec 31 – lowest of the year)Tennessee – $3.12 (Jan 1) vs. $2.10 (Dec 31 – lowest of the year)
Peak average price in 2014
National – $3.70 4/28/2014Florida – $3.76 4/18/2014Georgia – $3.70 4/30/2014Tennessee – $3.52 4/25/2014