Thousands of gas stations throughout the southern United States could see the price of a gallon of unleaded dip back below $4 in the coming days and weeks as Americans prepare for peak driving season in July.
Patrick De Haan of the gas prices analysis firm Gas Buddy expects fuel costs to continue to fall to $3.99 or less in states such as South Carolina, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, Alabama, and Arkansas.
Gas prices have been trending downward in the last three weeks as have oil prices.
West Texas Intermediate, the US crude benchmark, fell below $100 a barrel for the first time since May on Wednesday. As of Thursday morning, however, WTI jumped by nearly 5% to more than $103 per barrel.
The $103 figure is still considerably lower than the $123.70 per gallon on March 8.
Brent Crude, the international benchmark, briefly fell below $100 a barrel on Wednesday for the first time since April, though it, too, has ticked back up to just over $105 as of early Thursday morning.
De Haan told USA TODAY that the lower gas and oil prices are being driven by fears of a recession, which motivate consumers to buy less.
The latest figures from AAA show that the average nationwide price of a gallon of fuel stood at $4.75 on Thursday morning — or 10 cents cheaper compared to a week ago.
At this time last month, the average cost of a gallon of fuel stood at $4.92.
Despite the relatively cheaper gas prices, Americans on the whole are paying more than 50% higher costs for fuel compared to this time last year, when a gallon of regular unleaded set motorists back an average of $3.137.
Since then, a surge in demand, disruptions in the supply chain, and fewer barrels on the market due to the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine have sent prices soaring.
The Biden administration is releasing some 1 million barrels of oil per day from the national Strategic Petroleum Reserve, though some of that is being shipped to Europe and Asia, according to a recent report.
De Haan said that he expects the price of gas to fall 1 or 2 cents per gallon “every couple of days or so” for the next few weeks.
But Andrew Gross of AAA said it’s still premature to celebrate since demand will likely ramp up again as more Americans take to the roads in the second half of the month.
“Domestic gasoline demand dipped recently, which took some of the pressure off of pump prices. About 80% of stations are now selling regular for under $5 a gallon,” Gross said.
“But July is typically the heaviest month for demand as more Americans hit the road, so this trend of easing prices could be short-lived.”