Could gas prices fall below $3? At the current pace of falling prices, they very well could: Florida gas prices plummeted an average of 17 cents per gallon last week, continuing what is now a 7-week streak of declines. The state average has now dropped a total of 96 cents per gallon since mid-June, standing at $3.93 per gallon.
Oil prices were falling sharply again on Monday–by more than $5 a barrel at certain points in the day–reaching their lowest level since mid-March, but still a long way from the $66-a-barrel troth of late December. As oil prices fall, gas prices follow. But falling oil prices are a reflection of a weakening world economy. And this week’s meeting of OPEC (oil producing countries’ cartel) and their allies may lead to another tightening of supplies, potentially driving prices back up. A warning sign: Gasoline futures jumped nearly 30 cents per gallon last week.
In Palm Coast, gas prices were just under the $4-a-gallon threshold both along gas-guzzlers’ alley on State Road 100 ($3.99 at Wawa, $3.97 at RaceTrac, $3.99 at Shell) and along Palm Coast Parkway. As has often been the case, one of the lowest prices in the county is at the Hess station south of Bunnell, on State Road 100, where gas was selling for $3.79 a gallon today, according to Gas Buddy, in line with one of the lower rates found in Orlando Sunday–and the same price found at Buc-ee’s at I-95 and LPGA Boulevard in Daytona Beach.
Several Flagler County commissioners at their meeting this morning complained of what they see as purposefully higher gas prices in Flagler–what Commissioner Greg Hansen, not quite accurately, referred to as “the most expensive gas in the state of Florida.”
Today’s prices in St. Johns and Putnam counties were in line with Flagler’s, with similar differences observable in other parts of the state. For example, today’s prices in Alachua County are hovering between the low $4 to high $3.90 a gallon, much as in Flagler, but driving further south on I-75, in Ocala, prices fall by up to 40 cents a gallon, with most stations in the $3.50 range. Prices rise again as drivers reach the west coast in the Tampa Bay area, though not as much as in te Gainesville and Flagler areas. Prices in the Tallahassee area today were ranging anywhere from $3.69 to $3.999, with numerous stations at the $3.99 level see in in Palm Coast. As drivers make their way west in the Panhandle–approaching the refineries of the Gulf–prices fell again, in a few rare cases to below $3.50 a gallon.
But as AAA’s analysis indicates (see the highest gas prices in the state listed below), Flagler is not at the top of the scale in higher prices.
Hansen wanted the Commissioner of Agriculture to look into what he saw as the Flagler exception, and relied on anecdotal evidence to make his case. “I’ve talked to a couple of service stations, they said ‘because you’ll pay it, that’s why we charge it'” Hansen said. “Well, it’s not right.” Commissioner Andy Dance said he’d received the same complaining emails from constituents, and an explanation from a county staffer that the gas tax could explain it, though Dance said that did not make sense. Dance called it “interesting.”
Commissioners agreed to send a letter to the agriculture commissioner.
The average full tank of gas now costs about $14 less than it did when pump prices were at their peak in mid-June. At that time, when the state average was $4.89 per gallon, drivers paid $73 to fill an average 15-gallon tank of gas. Now, that same 15-gallon tank costs around $59.
While Americans are still feeling great strains at the gas pump, oil companies are recording, massive, record profits: $17.85 billion in the second quarter alone for Exxon Mobil, $11.62 billion for Chevron, $11.5 billion for Shell, which had recorded record profits of $9.1 billion the previous quarter. Exxon’s stick price was trading at nearly $95 a share today, up from $60 a share in December (or 58 percent higher). Clearly, while the war in Ukraine has tightened oil supplies to a degree, prices have not gone up only because of the war in Ukraine, or because of demand, but because oil companies have also ridden the wave to maximize profits. Commissioner Dave Sullivan appeared not to be off the mark when he said this morning: “I think large corporations do analysis of the populations and what they think they can get away with charging.”
“After paying almost $5 a gallon just a couple months ago, Florida drivers are likely breathing a sigh of relief when seeing gas prices back below $4 a gallon,” said AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins. “However, it’s too early to tell just how long these sub-$4 gas prices will hang around. Oil and gasoline futures prices made notable gains last week. This could cause falling gas prices to level out or potentially increase, but it’s too early to tell.”
- Most expensive metro markets – West Palm Beach-Boca Raton ($4.18), Naples ($4.13), Fort Lauderdale ($4.04)
- Least expensive metro markets – Crestview-Fort Walton Beach ($3.70), Melbourne-Titusville ($3.74), The Villages ($3.75)