Area fuel prices reached a milestone over the weekend with one gallon of regular unleaded gasoline going for less than $3 per gallon at numerous locations.
Michael Right, vice president for public affairs with AAA Missouri, said that several factors have contributed to the slow decrease in fuel prices over the past several weeks.
“The abundance of crude oil as well as its lower cost has allowed fuel prices to drop,” Right said. “Crude oil is currently priced in the $80 range per barrel where it was over $100 per barrel not too long ago.”
A sampling of prices around Pine Bluff Monday found fuel priced at $2.94 per gallon at the Speedway at 100 N. Walnut St.; $2.97 per gallon at the EZ Mart location at 5401 Dollarway Road as well as the Valero at West 28th Avenue and South Palm Street; $2.99 per gallon at the EZ Mart at 5600 S. Olive St. next to Interstate 530, the Murphy USA at 5601 S. Olive St. and the Shell station at 2310 S. Olive St.; $3.01 per gallon at the Exxon at 2800 S. Camden Road; and $3.05 per gallon at the Valero at East Harding Avenue and Pines Mall Drive.
White Hall prices for regular unleaded included $2.95 per gallon at the United Filling Station at 5320 Dollarway Road; and $2.99 per gallon at the Shell station at Sheridan Road and Robin Road, the Valero at Sheridan Road and I-530, and the Valero at U.S. 270 and Sandy Acres Road.
Right said that the large supply of gasoline coupled with lower overall demand versus last year has provided a cheaper fuel scenario.
“We should be able to continue to enjoy these prices for the immediate future anyway,” Right said. “Barring unforeseen situations, such as a flareup in Middle East tensions, prices should remain low for a while. When demand picks up in the spring, as it normally does, prices should move higher.”
Right said that if ongoing negotiations in Washington, D.C., fail to prevent the country from enduring the automatic spending cuts and tax increases set to begin Jan. 1, fuel prices have the potential to fall even further.
“If the economy slows after Jan. 1 due to a failure to reach a compromise in Washington, gas prices could continue to fall as the oil companies anticipate even lower demand,” Right said. “This situation would continue until the companies are able to adjust their inventories.”
Right said that the global economy is affected for good or ill when the U.S. economy either improves or deteriorates.
The average price for one gallon of regular unleaded gasoline in Arkansas is $3.03; versus $3.10 one week ago; $3.15 one month ago; and $3.06 one year ago.
The nationwide average is $3.25 per gallon; versus $3.34 per gallon one week ago; $3.44 per gallon one month ago; and $3.24 per gallon one year ago.