Gas prices are finally falling back to earth — and drivers in many parts of the country are back to paying less than $4 a gallon.
The average price of a gallon of gas in the United States is now $4.52, according to AAA. That’s 15 cents less than a week ago and 50 cents less than the all-time high of $5.02 when prices peaked in mid-June. Nationally, gas prices have been creeping lower for more than a month straight.
In a blog post, AAA spokesperson Andrew Gross attributed that drop to falling oil prices — the price of a barrel of crude oil has fallen to around $100 from roughly $120 earlier this year. Demand for gasoline has dropped too, and that's helped to push prices down.
In many places, prices have dropped well below the national average. More than 25,000 gas stations are selling gas for $3.99 per gallon or less, according to Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy. Most of the stations where gas is under $4 are clustered in the Southeast and Midwest, in an area stretching roughly from New Mexico to the Carolinas, according to De Haan.
Over the last week, Washington, D.C., Ohio, Texas, Arizona, California, Wisconsin, Oklahoma and Kentucky have seen the biggest drops in prices, according to AAA. Prices are generally are lowest in the Southeast; South Carolina currently has the cheapest statewide average, at $4.02 per gallon.
How low will gas prices go?
De Haan predicts that prices will continue to drop, noting that thousands more stations will fall under the $3.99 threshold this week.
White House officials are saying they expect prices to decrease further as well. On Sunday, Amos Hochstein, the Special Presidential Coordinator for International Energy Affairs, told CBS’s “Face the Nation” that he expects national average prices to keep inching closer to $4 per gallon.
In the aftermath of President Joe Biden’s recent trip to the Middle East — where oil market dynamics were front and center — Hochstein said he expects that major oil producers will be able to ramp up their production in the coming weeks. More production means a larger supply of crude oil, and that means lower gas prices for drivers.
But as always, there’s no guarantee those price drops will stick. The oil market is notoriously volatile, and unpredictable factors like weather, global politics and coronavirus concerns can all influence prices.