"The national average drops to its lowest level since July, while Oregon's average is at its lowest point since January. The national average for regular unleaded drops three cents to $3.38 while Oregon's average falls four-and-a-half cents to $3.43." AAA Oregon/Idaho Public Affairs Director Marie Dodds says, "For the second week in a row, Oregon's average for regular unleaded is just a few cents more than the national average. Earlier this fall, the Oregon average was as much as 30 cents a gallon more than the national average. The gap continues to shrink. The difference was 5.6 cents last week and is now just under a nickel.
"Oregon's current price of $3.43 is a dime per gallon lower than it was a year ago at $3.53. But the current national average of $3.38 is ten cents more than it was a year ago at $3.28 and continues the streak of daily record prices for the calendar day that began on August 20," adds Dodds.
AAA continues to predict that the national average for regular unleaded will slowly drop through the end of the year and average between $3.20 and $3.40 a gallon by New Year's Day. To date, the lowest daily average of 2012 is $3.271 a gallon on Jan. 1. In Oregon, AAA believes pump prices will be in the $3.25 to $3.45 range by New Year's Day. To date, Oregon's lowest daily average of 2012 is $3.385 on Jan. 2. "However, there is a small chance that pump prices could rise or remain flat as a result of rising oil prices and other economic factors," Dodds says.
Over the last week, prices have dropped in every state except Kansas, where the average price remains the same as a week ago. States in the middle of the country have seen the largest week-over-week declines, with gas prices falling 15 cents in Ohio and 12 cents in Michigan.
Gas prices nationally have fallen nearly 50 cents a gallon on average since September 14, the day before much of the United States began the transition to winter-blend gasoline. Nationally, the largest one-week decline in pump prices was at the end of October when the national average dropped 14 cents. The largest increase during a similar seven-day period was 15 cents per gallon as prices surged higher to end February. Volatility has been more dramatic in the Midwest, where drivers have seen some of the largest price swings in the nation this year. Motorists in the region were squeezed to begin August, as prices rose some 40 cents or more per gallon in just one week, following regional production and distribution glitches. Prices in these same states had dropped about 25 cents in a week only a month earlier at the end of June.
Drivers on the West Coast have also experienced volatility in gas prices. This fall, pump prices skyrocketed in California with a 50-cent surge the first week of October to an all-time high of $4.67 a gallon. The jump was triggered by a power outage at the Exxon Mobile refinery in Torrance. The refinery went offline when California was near five-year lows in fuel supplies, sending gas prices higher along the entire West Coast. Oregon's average climbed to a recent peak of $4.08 in mid-October.
The average price of gas in areas hit hard by Hurricane Sandy, including New Jersey, New York City and Long Island, have returned to pre-storm levels now that gas stations are receiving regular fuel shipments. Average gas prices have dropped 18 cents a gallon in New Jersey, 21 cents a gallon in New York City and 26 cents a gallon in Long Island from peak prices following the storm.
While national retail gas prices have declined each day during the past week, crude oil prices have increased slightly, as market attention has focused on the impact of the looming U.S. fiscal cliff and the broader health of the global economy. Monday, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil breached the $90 per barrel mark during intraday trading, but ultimately settled up just 18 cents at $89.09 per barrel at the close of formal trading on the NYMEX. WTI has not settled above $90 per barrel since October 19. Today crude is trading around $88 per barrel. Crude prices are up about 3 percent in the last month.