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Published: 11/9/2005

Gas prices expected to drop below $2 a gallon

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Rob Failor of Pemberville, Ohio, fills a can with gas that is priced at $2.04 a gallon at the Pilot Travel Center on I-280 in Stony Ridge.
Rob Failor of Pemberville, Ohio, fills a can with gas that is priced at $2.04 a gallon at the Pilot Travel Center on I-280 in Stony Ridge.
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For gasoline consumers and how many of us aren t $2 a gallon sure looks better with prices coming down than it did on the way up.

The prices are getting better. It s not taking so much out of my pocket, said Brenda Davies of Oregon, while fueling her car yesterday at the BP at Front and Main streets in East Toledo.

The price there for self-service, unleaded regular was $2.129 a gallon at the time 8 cents a gallon higher than that posted at truck stops near I-280 and the Ohio Turnpike, but not so far out of Ms. Davies way.

I m hoping to see it go at least under $2. That would be nice, she said.

That wish may soon come true. According to gasbuddy.com, clusters of stations in Cleveland, Akron, and Dayton were slightly under the $2 mark yesterday.

And even at $2.049, yesterday s low-end Toledo price was a bargain compared with the $3 and up that appeared in the region for the first time in late August after Hurricane Katrina tore through oil production and refining facilities in and around the Gulf of Mexico.

Another price spike to just shy of $3 locally occurred when Hurricane Rita struck Texas in late September.

Since then, gasoline prices have fallen steadily in the Toledo area, and now are poised to go below $2 for the first time since shortly after Memorial Day.

Average prices have dropped nationwide too, a phenomenon that the federal Energy Information Administration attributes to a heavy flow of gasoline imports during October that made up for reduced domestic refining capacity, along with a seasonal decline in gasoline demand.

Current prices remain historically high for this time of year, mainly because of crude-oil supply disruptions in Iraq and Venezuela and the hurricanes lingering effect on Gulf Coast refining, Angela Veitch, an EIA statistician, said yesterday.

A continuing boom in Chinese demand for petroleum also is a factor, she added.

A further decline of about 12 cents a gallon is likely by year s end as the refining picture improves, Ms. Veitch said.

There is still movement, further downward pressure, in the market to come, and no foreseen upward pressure, she said.

Truckers and others who use diesel fuel also are paying less these days, though during late September and October, diesel prices stayed high while gasoline declined.

According to an EIA analysis, that occurred, in part, because diesel competes directly with heating oil for refinery capacity, and early fall is typically the busiest time for heating oil production.

Diesel also stayed high because importing did not accelerate as quickly as it did for gasoline, the analysis said. Ms. Veitch added that agricultural fuel demand also was a factor that buoyed the costs of both diesel and gasoline in the Midwestern states during September.

Contact David Patch at:dpatch@theblade.com or 419-724-6094.



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