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WASHINGTON, D.C. — The national average price of gas held steady over the past week, declining on just one of the past four days and reaching $2.12 per gallon as of Aug. 8. That is the lowest price for this date since 2004 and 26 cents below 2016's peak price of $2.40, which occurred on June 11, according to the AAA Newsroom.
This average price is also one cent less than one week ago, 12 cents less than one month ago and 48 cents less than the same date one year ago.
Abundant supplies of gasoline have contributed to lower gas prices across the United States during the 2016 summer driving season, but during the first week of August, the U.S. Department of Energy reported the largest gasoline supply decline since April. This caused the lengthy slide in pump prices to reverse at least temporarily, AAA said.
Gas prices dropped in 38 states and Washington, D.C., over the past week, but were largely offset by increases in several Midwestern states. Despite a week-over-week increase in 12 states, gas prices remain lower in every state compared to one year ago, and three Western states are seeing discounts of more than 75 cents per gallon.
As of Aug. 7, 44 percent of U.S. gas stations were selling gas for $2 per gallon or less, vs. fewer than one in 1,000 on the same date last year, while less than 1 percent of gas stations nationwide are selling gasoline for more than $3 per gallon, vs. 11 percent that were doing so one year ago.
Prices at the pump will likely remain relatively cheap through the remainder of summer and into fall due to high gasoline supplies and low oil prices, AAA predicted, despite the fact that U.S. drivers are on track to shatter the all-time record for total miles driven in a year.
If the next month does not see a major market-moving event such as a major hurricane or escalating geopolitical tensions overseas, gas prices will likely stay at relatively low levels. It is even possible that the national average price may dip below $2 per gallon once the summer driving season ends and refineries switch to the less expensive winter-blend gasoline on Sept. 15.
Gas prices are now below $2 per gallon in 15 states: South Carolina ($1.81), Alabama ($1.86), Tennessee ($1.89), Mississippi ($1.89), New Jersey ($1.90), Virginia ($1.91), Arkansas ($1.92), Delaware ($1.94), Louisiana ($1.95), Texas ($1.98), Missouri ($1.97), Oklahoma ($1.97), Georgia ($1.98), Kentucky ($1.98) and North Carolina ($1.97).
Despite year-over-year savings, the West Coast remains the most expensive gasoline market and includes the only four states where drivers are paying an average of more than $2.50 per gallon: Hawaii ($2.73), California ($2.66), Washington ($2.62), and Alaska ($2.59). But along with the highest prices, the West Coast is also seeing the most dramatic yearly savings, with the largest year-over-year declines occurring in California (down 95 cents), Alaska (down 85 cents), and Nevada (down 76 cents). A contributor to these savings is the fact that the region saw relatively few refinery issues this summer, compared to several regional issues during the summer of 2015.
Gas prices in the Rocky Mountains continue to be among the most stable in the country, due to their insulated states in the center of the U.S. with minimal disruptions to regional production this spring and summer. Prices here are likely to remain relatively flat through Labor Day. In contrast, gas prices in the Great Lakes region continue to be the most volatile in the country due to tightening supplies and refinery issues causing temporary price increases, AAA said. Over the last week, the region saw the most dramatic increases in the U.S. in Michigan (14 cents), Illinois (7 cents) and Ohio (7 cents), while Indiana saw the largest decrease of 7 cents.
Drivers in the Central region of the U.S. are paying some of the cheapest gas prices, especially those in Tennessee ($1.89), Missouri ($1.97), and Oklahoma ($1.97). Meanwhile, prices are dropping steadily in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, and the South and Southeast are seeing prices below $2 per gallon across much of these regions.