Americans are paying the lowest prices in almost two years to fill their cars, offering some relief to nervous consumers.
“It’s really wonderful,” said Moises Garcia, who filled up his father’s F-150 on Friday. “You pay attention to prices when you have a big truck.”
Garcia paid $2.89 a gallon at the QuikTrip at Douglas and Washington. He said a few weeks ago, he and his father paid $40 and “we weren’t filling up completely.” Now, he said, a mere $25 gives them “more bang for the buck.”
According to www.gasbuddy.com, Kansas gas prices are ranging from $2.74 at the Sam’s Club in Salina to $3.39 at U Pump It in Elkhart, in extreme southwest Kansas.
The national average retail price sank 1.1 cents to $3.211 a gallon, the lowest since Dec. 20, 2011, according to the AAA, the nation’s largest motoring club. Pump prices are approaching the lowest level since February 2011, just before unrest in the Middle East pushed U.S. crude oil above $100 a barrel and gasoline near $4 a gallon.
“We’re probably just a few days away from seeing the cheapest gas prices since February 2011,” said Michael Green, a AAA spokesman in Washington. “Our official estimate would still be that we’re going to drop to $3.10 a gallon by the end of the year. At the rate we’re going, it wouldn’t be surprising if we even go a little lower.”
Retiree Steven Vosburg said a drop in gas prices makes a big difference for him because he watches his money carefully. He also delivers food in a large, gas-guzzling truck for the American Red Cross Midway-Kansas Chapter.
“It saves the Red Cross a lot of money when the prices go down,” Vosburg said. “Every dime and penny we can save for them is a good idea.”
Not everyone is excited about the drop, though.
“It seems like it always goes back up twice as much,” said Josh Stuart, who also was pumping gas downtown on Friday.
Stuart said he pays attention to the high and low prices, but they don’t affect his purchasing decisions much.
“When the car gets low, I fill it up.”
U.S. refiners are processing the most crude and other feedstock for this time of year since 2003, having expanded to take advantage of surging domestic and Canadian supply. U.S. oil production grew in October to the highest level since March 1989 as advances in drilling techniques boosted output from shale formations.
Retail prices have fallen 38.3 cents since August, with the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season that ends Nov. 30 shaping up to be the first in almost two decades without a major storm disrupting Gulf Coast crude and fuel production.
About 19 percent of gas stations were charging less than $3 a gallon yesterday, with only 2 percent selling regular for more than $3.75, according to AAA’s Green. Drivers in 38 states had access to at least one station selling the fuel for below $3.
Still, gas prices aren’t cooperating on any level with Jeff Arensdorf of Village Tours & Travel.
“I’m disappointed that diesel fuel hasn’t gone down as much,” he said.
He wouldn’t have complained if other prices had remained higher.
“It usually helps our business, actually,” Arensdorf said. “It actually will push people to ride the bus rather than drive their own cars.”
Personally, he appreciates the drop in fuel prices, though.
“I don’t like paying higher gas prices.”
Contributing: Bloomberg News; Carrie Rengers of The Eagle