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Wichita gas prices tumble 18 cents per gallon from last week

The price of crude oil has dropped nearly $10 per barrel since the start of July, pushing down gas prices in Wichita. (July 27, 2015)
The price of crude oil has dropped nearly $10 per barrel since the start of July, pushing down gas prices in Wichita. (July 27, 2015) The Wichita Eagle

Retail gasoline prices in Wichita dropped about 18 cents per gallon in the past week to an average of $2.49 per gallon – and falling – by Monday evening, according to GasBuddy’s daily survey of gas outlets in the Wichita area.

Sunday was especially busy for the employees who post the gas prices.

“Yesterday, it changed four times,” said Chris Gile, manager of the QuikTrip at 21st and Ridge Road.

The station lowered its price again Monday morning to $2.42 per gallon, with the West Kellogg Sam’s Club reported to be as low as $2.34 per gallon.

The price of gas in the Wichita area was 8 cents per gallon lower than a month ago and 72 cents per gallon below the price of a year ago.

Supply and demand has finally caught up with the local market, said an analyst.

The price of crude oil has dropped nearly $10 per barrel since the start of July, pushing down gas prices across the country. But in the Wichita area, gas prices actually spiked about 8 cents a gallon a week ago because a refinery in the region was reported to have experienced an interruption in production.

In the face of the potential shortage, the market immediately hiked prices, said Will Speer, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy. When it became clear that the refinery problem wasn’t serious, prices dropped, he said.

“Once the refinery issue got figured out, the macroeconomics started to kick in,” Speer said. “The price of crude is now $47.40 (per barrel) when it had been kicking around the $60 mark a month ago. And then the Iran news came in and that spooked the market.”

Iran is rumored to have an enormous stockpile of crude oil that would be sold if sanctions against the country are lifted.

Mike Thornbrugh, spokesman for QuikTrip, said it wasn’t just one refinery in the region with production issues, but three. Also, he said, the Denver area experienced unusually high gas prices in the last week or two, so a lot of gasoline was diverted there.

Whatever the reason, drivers Monday were thankful for the bounty at the pump.

Brent Dillon is an independent distributor for Little Debbie snacks, driving his delivery truck across a multi-county area. He said he burns $60 to $70 a day in gasoline.

He was pretty excited to see the price drop.

“It’s more money for school supplies,” he said. “That’s where we’re headed right now.”

Speer said that good news should last. He expects prices to stay down or even fall through the rest of the summer, and on into fall and winter.

He said that crude oil stocks are at their highest levels in 80 years, which tends to lower oil prices. Also, he said, the end of the summer driving season reduces demand while the coming switch to cold weather gasoline lowers refiners’ costs, both of which would tend to lower gasoline prices.

Reach Dan Voorhis at 316-268-6577 or dvoorhis@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @danvoorhis.

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