CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- When filling up at the pump this fall, the majority of U.S. motorists will find savings of potentially more than 25 cents per gallon compared to this summer.
The national gas price average, which is already 15 cents cheaper than just five weeks ago, is poised to continue pushing less expensive due to several factors, including less expensive crude oil prices, the drop-off in gasoline demand after Labor Day and the move to winter-blend gasoline. AAA forecasts the national average to drop to $2.40 or lower this fall and offers motorists easy tips to maintain fuel efficiency throughout the year.
“Right now, we are predicting that fall gas prices will be significantly lower than they were this summer across the Carolinas,” said Tiffany Wright, AAA Carolinas spokesperson. “This is due to a number of factors, with the main reason being the low price of crude oil this season.”
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AAA forecasts crude prices to range between $50 and $60 per barrel this fall. That is a considerable drop from last fall when prices ranged between $60 and $75. Why so cheap? Current total domestic crude inventories sit at 438.9 million bbl, which is 31.5 million bbl higher than last year at this time.
The continued glut of oil encouraged the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and its partners to extend their 1.2 million b/d production reduction agreement through the end of the year. However, so far, reduced supply from OPEC and its partners has not led to a sustained higher price for crude.
As always, hurricane season has the potential to cause declining gas prices to shoot back up. This month, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicted that 2019’s Atlantic hurricane season is expected to be above normal, with 10 to 17 named storms, including five to nine hurricanes. The mere threat of a hurricane making landfall can shutter domestic crude production, leading to spikes in crude and gasoline prices.
In 2017, Hurricane Harvey caused the national gas price average to jump 30 cents in a matter of days. Locally, Hurricane Florence caused great damage to the Carolinas last year and Hurricane Matthew a few years prior.