A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

AAA: Gas prices keep slip sliding away, easing as fall approaches; hope for quiet hurricane season

Lower oil prices, modest domestic gasoline demand and a quiet hurricane season are combining to drive pump prices lower. The national average for a gallon of gas fell 7 cents in the past week to $3.77.

“According to weather analysts, it’s the first time in 25 years that a named Atlantic storm did not develop in August. That’s good news for everyone,” said Lori Weaver Hawkins, public affairs manager, AAA Blue Grass. “But we still have another month of peak hurricane season. If storms hit the gulf area, it could disrupt oil production and refining, which could cause gas prices to rise. If storms are isolated to the east coast, we could see a drop in demand. The best scenario, of course, is that the quiet hurricane season we’ve experienced to date continues through the fall.”
Meanwhile, oil prices dipped due to recent lackluster Chinese demand for goods, which has decreased energy use in manufacturing and demand for gasoline, as that country continues to grapple with COVID-19 outbreaks and lockdowns in major industrial cities. This is fueling fears that oil demand could drop in China, the world’s largest importer of crude oil, which is helping to keep oil prices lower.

According to data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), domestic gas demand increased slightly from 8.43 million barrels a day to 8.59 million barrels a day last week. However, the rate is nearly 1 million barrels a day lower than the last week of August a year ago. Also, total domestic gasoline stocks decreased by 1.1 million barrels to 214.5 million barrels. Although gasoline demand rose and supply tightened, lower oil prices led to falling pump prices. The WTI is currently trending in the mid-80s after falling from $97.01/barrel on Monday, Aug. 29, to $86.61/barrel last Thursday. If oil prices continue to decline, drivers will likely continue to see pump prices drop further as long as there are no weather-related events that cause disruption.

The national average of $3.77 is 31 cents less than a month ago but 59 cents more than a year ago.

Kentucky’s average for a gallon of unleaded is now $3.42, steady overnight, just 4 cents lower on the week and 27 cents lower compared to a month ago. A year ago, the average in Kentucky was $2.93, just 49 cents less than today’s average.

Lexington’s gas price average is now at $3.43, down 2 cents overnight, 8 cents lower on the week and 40 cents lower on the month. A year ago, the Lexington average was $2.94.

In Northern Kentucky, Covington is at $3.50, steady overnight, down 4 cents on the week and 37 cents on the month. A year ago, Covington was at $2.98.

In Eastern Kentucky, motorists in Hazard are seeing the gas price average at $3.62 today, down 2 cents overnight, 5 cents lower on the week and 24 cents lower on the month. A year ago, the average in Hazard for a gallon of regular was $2.96. Pikeville is at $3.22 today, down a penny overnight, just 2 cents lower on the week and 26 cents lower on the month. A year ago, the average in Pikeville was $2.90. Ashland is higher at $3.58 today, down a penny overnight, 10 cents lower on the week and 50 cents on the month. A year ago, the price in Ashland was $2.98.

Around the Commonwealth, the highest gas prices remain primarily in the eastern tier of counties, while the lowest prices are scattered throughout. The highest county average gas prices today is in Elliott County at $3.89, followed by Rowan County at $3.87. The cheapest spot for gas in the Commonwealth today can be found in Larue County at $3.19.
Checking nearby, the average price for a gallon of unleaded (and change compared to last week) in Ohio is at $3.62 (+.04), West Virginia $3.72 (-.06), Virginia $3.55 (-.08), Tennessee $3.36 (-.07), Indiana $3.90 (+.03), Illinois $4.11 (-.05) and Missouri $3.36 (-.09).

Across the nation, the high spot remains Hawaii at $5.29, followed by California at $5.26, with both states remaining steady on the week. The lowest state averages can be found in Texas and Arkansas, both at $3.25.

Quick Stats

The nation’s top 10 largest weekly decreases: Vermont (−15 cents), Connecticut (−14 cents), Rhode Island (−14 cents), Pennsylvania (−14 cents), Massachusetts (−13 cents), Maine (−13 cents), New York (−12 cents), Delaware (−12 cents), New Jersey (−12 cents) and Maryland (−12 cents).

The nation’s top 10 least expensive markets: Texas ($3.25), Arkansas ($3.25), Mississippi ($3.26), Louisiana ($3.30), Georgia ($3.31), Oklahoma ($3.34), Tennessee ($3.36), Missouri ($3.36), Alabama ($3.37) and South Carolina ($3.39).

Oil Market Dynamics

At the close of Friday’s formal trading session, WTI increased by 26 cents to settle at $86.87. Crude prices increased slightly at the end of last week due to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its allies, collectively known as OPEC+, deciding to reduce production by 100,000 barrels for October.

However, prices declined most of last week amid market concerns that crude demand will fall if economic growth slows or stalls due to a recession. For this week, crude prices could continue to drop if demand concerns persist. Additionally, EIA’s latest weekly report showed that total commercial crude inventories decreased by 3.4 million bbl to 418.3 million bbl.

Fuel-saving Tips from AAA

Whether you’re planning a trip across the country, or just across town, AAA offers the following advice to help drivers save at the pump:

• A vehicle that’s been maintained will help you maximize your miles per gallon. Make routine vehicle inspections a part of your regular routine. Plus, here’s a step you can take on your own: make sure your tires are properly inflated. Underinflated tires are a drag on fuel economy. Check tire pressure at least every other week and more often when temperatures are fluctuating.
• Find the shortest route to your destination and map it out before you go to minimize unnecessary turnarounds, idling and backtracking. Avoid peak traffic times because you get zero miles to the gallon when you’re sitting still in traffic. If possible go to “one-stop shops” where you can do multiple tasks (banking, shopping, etc.).
• Fuel economy peaks at around 50 mph on most cars, then drops off as speeds increase. Reducing highway speeds by 5 to 10 mph can increase fuel economy by as much as 14%. Surpassing the posted speed limit is not only against the law and increases the risk of crash severity, but also reduces your gas mileage. 
• A car engine consumes one quarter to one-half gallon of fuel per hour when idling, but a warm engine only takes around 10 seconds worth of fuel to restart. Where safe to do so, shut off your engine if you will be stopped for more than a minute. Remember, idling gets you 0 miles to the gallon.
• Use “fast pass” or “express” toll lanes to avoid unnecessary stops or slowdowns on the highway.
• Only use premium gas in vehicles that require it. Paying for premium gas for a vehicle that takes regular is a waste of money and is of no benefit to the vehicle.


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