Gas prices in Wichita continued a downward trend on Monday that saw several stations around the city selling unleaded regular for less than $3 a gallon.
Unleaded was averaging $3.07 in Wichita on Monday, down from $3.14 last week and $3.53 a month ago, according to AAA auto club.
At this time in 2012 gas prices averaged $3.60 in town, Wichitagasprices.com reported on its site. The last time gas was available in Wichita for less than $3 a gallon was in January.
Some of the trend toward lower prices at the pump is natural as travel starts to come to a close in the fall, said Darin Newsom, a senior market analyst for the Omaha-based Internet trading firm Telvent DTN.
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“We’ve moved into the time of year when demand really starts to slow, so it’s not that unusual to see the markets move lower,” he said. “We have plenty of supplies and lack of demand. You add those two things together and you really push the market lower.”
James Hanni, AAA’s public affairs executive vice president in the Kansas region, called the downward trend “the perfect no-storm of good news.” Along with lower demand, production of oil and gas is up, and supplies are good.
In addition, a light hurricane season in the Gulf of Mexico hasn’t been as threatening to refineries, and refineries have made the switch from summer to winter fuel blends, which were cheaper to refine because they require fewer additives, Hanni said.
How long prices will remain low is always uncertain.
Gas futures usually continue to go down through last week of November before they stabilize, Newsom said. This time, the sell-off has been so fast that they may have stabilized for the entire season, and we could see a bounce-back in prices, he said.
“Prices may go up a little. Last week in Omaha we saw it at $2.99, and the next day it was $3.19. Then it went back down,” Newsom said.
Prices may move up through the first week of November and drift back down for the rest of the month, he said. Or they could stay at or below $3.
“There’s really no big push right now to have the market go higher,” Newsom said.
Hanni said prices should remain low until Thanksgiving, when the demand rises again as people start to drive more during the holidays.
“But generally speaking, it should be a fairly flat period for us. There’s no reason to anticipate a big shoot-up in gas prices,” Hanni said.