Many U.S. motorists are getting an extra holiday gift they may not be expecting next month: a price at the pump lower than $2 per gallon by Christmas.
So says AAA, which reports that pump prices have fallen for ten consecutive days, reaching a national average price of $2.16 per gallon. AAA projects that average U.S. prices should continue to drop to lower than $2 per gallon by Christmas for the first time since 2009.
Drivers are already benefiting saving, with today’s average six cents less per gallon than one week ago and 11 cents less than one month ago. Retail averages are down 74 cents per gallon year-over-year.
Meanwhile, U.S. crude oil inventories continue to build, and according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, are within reach of hitting record levels set this past April.
“Refinery production in the Midwest appears to be recovering, which should help improve prices in the region,” AAA says in a news release. “For example, the ExxonMobil refinery in Joliet, Illinois, has reportedly concluded its scheduled maintenance and returned to production. This and other refinery restarts in the Midwest have led to large weekly and monthly price discounts in Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan.”
Historically, demand for gasoline declines in the month of November, and with the autumn refinery maintenance season nearing completion, pump prices are expected to move lower to close out the year, barring any unanticipated outages or supply disruptions.
Eleven states are already posting averages below $2 per gallon, with motorists in South Carolina ($1.91) and Alabama ($1.92) paying the nation’s lowest averages to refuel their vehicles. The nation’s most expensive markets are located in states west of the Rockies, led by Hawaii ($2.86), California ($2.80), Nevada ($2.67), Washington ($2.52) and Oregon ($2.41).