Tuesday, June 18, 2013
The Associated Press
NEW YORK - Gasoline prices have begun their seasonal slide.
Gas prices are displayed at a gas station and mini-mart in the Mid City section of New Orleans on Thursday.
The Associated Press
The national average retail price has fallen for 10 straight days and is now $3.74 per gallon.
Mainegasprices.com reported on its list of lowest prices Thursday that the Irving station at Riverside Street and Warren Avenue in Portland was charging $3.82 a gallon.
It could mark the beginning of the usual autumn decrease that was delayed this year because of refinery problems and high oil prices.
Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at the Oil Price Information Service, predicts drops of 5 cents to 15 cents per week for the next three weeks. Over the next several weeks, the national average could be at or below where it was last year. "There's some nice relief coming," he said.
It can't come soon enough for Mary Hess, who commutes 40 miles each way from her home in Sodus Point, N.Y., to Oswego, N.Y., where she teaches English. She hasn't noticed much of a drop -- she's still paying $4.04 per gallon to fill up her Buick Century.
Gasoline is among the biggest parts of her budget -- and she doesn't think it should be. "I'm frustrated more than anything," she said.
Gasoline prices typically decline in the fall as refiners switch to cheaper fuel blends and drivers take a break from road trips. This year, a series of refinery and pipeline problems sent gasoline supplies plummeting. That sent wholesale gasoline buyers and traders scrambling to purchase whatever they could, at ever higher prices, to secure supply.
"It was a cluster of random coincidental events and the buying had a panic nature to it," Kloza said.
Gasoline prices were already steep because of high global crude oil prices, despite economic uncertainty. The standoff over Iran's nuclear program has raised fears that oil supplies could be disrupted if tensions escalate.
In August, ruptures to pipelines that serve the Great Lakes and refinery outages in Indiana and Illinois sent gasoline prices higher in the Midwest. A fire at a Chevron refinery in Richmond, Calif., crippled a major contributor to California's gasoline supplies. Hurricane Isaac forced several Gulf Coast refineries to shut or slow down operations.
Then California saw more trouble. A pipeline that serves Bay Area refineries closed, two refineries were offline for maintenance and an Exxon Mobil Corp. refinery in Torrance, Calif., near Los Angeles shut down because of a surprise power outage.