Make us your home page
Instagram

One bright spot: Gas prices plunge

Gas prices could fall below $3 a gallon by Halloween as oil prices on Wednesday fell to their lowest point this year on fears of a global economic downturn.

"You could say it's a good thing," said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for Oil Price Information Service. "But it's happening for all the wrong reasons."

This week, the price of a gallon of gas across the United States fell below $3.50 for the first time in nearly six months, as oil prices remained lower and refineries recovered from hurricanes Ike and Gustav.

"Hopefully it's not just another short-term market fluctuation," said Lauren Bassett as she filled up her Toyota pickup Wednesday afternoon in Tampa. "Hopefully, it's something that will be a little more long lasting."

The 27-year-old Tampa pharmacist traded in a more fuel-efficient car for a truck to tow her boat just as gas prices started skyrocketing. It would be nice to see a fillup cost less than $60 again, she said. If gas hits $3 a gallon, "I'd be ecstatic." Just in case it doesn't, she's checking out motorcycles.

Oil prices have fallen nearly 40 percent since hitting a peak of $147.27 a barrel on July 11. Meanwhile, gas prices in the Tampa Bay area have fallen nearly 13 percent since the July 16 peak of nearly $4.01 a gallon — it now averages $3.50 a gallon. Light, sweet crude for November delivery fell $1.11 to settle at $88.95 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil at one point fell to $86.05 — the lowest price since Dec. 6, 2007.

The fall in gas prices is expected to accelerate if oil prices remain low, said Jonathan Cogan, an analyst with the Energy Information Administration, the statistical arm of the U.S. Department of Energy. Gas prices haven't fallen as far or as fast as oil for two reasons, he explained.

First, gas prices didn't rise as far or as fast as oil prices surged, Cogan said. Second, the one-two punch of hurricanes Gustav and Ike led to a prolonged shutdown of several refineries. At one point, more than 20 percent of the nation's refining capacity had been knocked out, Cogan said. Gasoline inventories in late September fell to their lowest levels since 1967.

All but two refineries were back up by Monday, according to the Department of Energy.

Gasoline supplies are now returning to normal, and the fall in gas prices could accelerate if oil prices don't turn back up, Kloza said.

"The bottom line is that you're going to see very, very sharp price drops this month," Kloza said.

It's not all good news, he pointed out. The value of home prices and stock portfolios have dropped sharply, too.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report. Asjylyn Loder can be reached at aloder@sptimes.com or (813) 225-3117.

One bright spot: Gas prices plunge 10/08/08 [Last modified: Sunday, October 12, 2008 7:08pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Wanted: New businesses on Safety Harbor's Main Street

    Local Government

    SAFETY HARBOR — A green grocery store, a hardware store, restaurants, boutiques and multi-use buildings are all wanted downtown, according to discussion at a community redevelopment workshop held last week. And to bring them to the Main Street district, city commissioners, led by Mayor Joe Ayoub, gave City Manager …

  2. Q&A: A business leader and historian jointly delve into Tampa's waterfront

    Business

    TAMPA — As a native of Tampa, Arthur Savage has always had a passion for his hometown's history. And as a third-generation owner and operator of A.R. Savage & Son, a Tampa-based shipping agency, his affinity for his hometown also extends to its local waterways.

    Arthur Savage (left) and Rodney Kite-Powell, co-authors of "Tampa Bay's Waterfront: Its History and Development," stand for a portrait with the bust of James McKay Sr. in downtown Tampa on Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2017. McKay, who passed away in 1876, was a prominent businessman, among other things, in the Tampa area. He was Arthur Savage's great great grandfather. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  3. Tampa's connected-vehicle program looking for volunteers

    Transportation

    TAMPA — Drivers on the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway can save on their monthly toll bill by volunteering to test new technology that will warn them about potential crashes and traffic jams.

    A rendering shows how new technology available through the Tampa-Hillsborough Expressway Authority will warn driver's about crashes, traffic jams, speed decreases and more. THEA is seeking 1,600 volunteers to install the devices, which will display alerts in their review mirrors, as part of an 18-month connected-vehicle pilot.
  4. What Florida's top Republicans are saying about Donald Trump

    State Roundup

    Republicans nationwide are blasting President Donald Trump for how he responded to Charlottesville.

  5. Tampa Bay Lightning, Amalie Arena to host job fair today

    Business

    TAMPA — The Tampa Bay Lightning and its home, Amalie Arena, are hosting a part-time job fair from 3 to 6 p.m. today on the Promenade Level of the arena. Available positions include platinum services, parking attendants, event security, housekeeping, retail and many other departments.

    The Tampa Bay Lightning and AMALIE Arena is hosting a part-time job fair on Thursday, Aug. 17 on the Promenade level of the arena.