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Gasoline under $2 a gallon in Wichita for first time since 2009

Adam Northup fills up his truck at a QuikTrip at 13th and West streets on Tuesday evening. (Dec. 23, 2014)
Adam Northup fills up his truck at a QuikTrip at 13th and West streets on Tuesday evening. (Dec. 23, 2014) The Wichita Eagle

Merry Christmas, motorists. Gasoline just dropped below $2 a gallon.

For the first time in more than five years, Wichita drivers on Tuesday evening topped off their tanks for $1.99 a gallon – and even a few pennies cheaper at some local fuel stations – for regular unleaded gasoline, continuing a steady decline in pump prices across Wichita and the state.

The savings left Wichitan Ruth Vineyard positively giddy as she filled a passenger van at a QuikTrip on Broadway, just south of Kellogg, during the evening rush Tuesday afternoon. She travels back and forth between Wichita and Oklahoma City on a daily basis while she’s on the job for a shuttle service.

Though gasoline costs a bit less in Oklahoma – Vineyard said she filled for $1.85 a gallon in the Oklahoma City area on Sunday – she’s grateful the cheaper rates are arriving for Kansans to enjoy.

“It puts a lot of extra money in the pockets of consumers so they can use it other places, instead of just on gas. So it’s beneficial to probably everybody as a whole,” Vineyard said, as she watched the digits on the pump tick up.

“I’ve never heard of anybody complaining they have too much money,” she said, chuckling. “So I don’t think that’ll be an issue.”

After 50 consecutive days of falling pump prices, Kansas on Tuesday surpassed Texas to become the third cheapest state nationwide for regular unleaded fuel, with an average per-gallon cost of $2.13, according to AAA. Missouri ranked No. 1 with an average price of $2.05 per gallon; Oklahoma came in second at $2.07.

The national average Tuesday sat at $2.39.

In Wichita, the average cost for regular unleaded fuel had dipped to $2.04 per gallon by midevening, according to AAA’s fuel price finder application on its website, www.aaa.com.

“Right now we have abundant global supply and sluggish demand growth, and those two things together produced” the ever-cheapening gas rates, AAA spokesman Jim Hanni said.

He called the $1.99 price popping up across Kansas “a little historic event.”

A year ago, Wichitans paid about a dollar more per gallon for regular unleaded fuel. A month ago, the cost was $2.64.

Last week, it was $2.31.

The last time the average daily gas price in Wichita was under $2 a gallon was May 6, 2009, he said.

“We just keep getting better and better,” Hanni said.

“Barring any disruptions in domestic (crude oil) production or unexpected spikes in the global price of crude, consumers could see, on average, prices drop another 10 to 15 cents a gallon to ring in the New Year.”

By Tuesday evening several Wichita gas stations had dropped their pump prices to $1.99 per gallon, and a few – including a Dillons store on South Seneca and one on 21st Street – were selling fuel for $1.97, leaving drivers pleased with the pre-Christmas plummet.

But Josh Moff said he felt “really good” at seeing a pump price of $1.99 – and his final bill – when he filled Tuesday evening. He couldn’t recall the last time prices were so low.

“In 2007, maybe?” he wondered, with a smile.

“I always said if gas prices got below $2 a gallon again, I’d be happy.”

Attorney Paul Hogan said he didn’t immediately notice the posted cost for unleaded gasoline when he pulled up to the pump Tuesday. But he was thrilled to take advantage of the dropping prices.

In his lifetime, the 66-year-old said he’s seen gasoline as cheap as 19 cents a gallon. That was when he was 16.

“But $2 a gallon, jolly, it’s been a long time,” Hogan said, fueling up his vehicle.

Reach Amy Renee Leiker at 316-268-6644 or aleiker@wichitaeagle.com. Follow her on Twitter: @amyreneeleiker.

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