Make us your home page
Instagram

Gas prices decline as summer heats up

Associated Press

Associated Press

NEW YORK — Gasoline prices are on a summer slide, giving U.S. drivers a break as they set out for the beach and other vacation spots for the Fourth of July holiday weekend.

The national average for a gallon has fallen for 21 straight days and is now below $3.50 for the first time since February. The reason: Oil prices have been relatively stable, and refineries are turning out more gasoline after completing springtime maintenance.

The drop may be interrupted temporarily because oil prices spiked Wednesday on fears that turmoil in Egypt will disrupt the flow of crude in the Mideast. Analysts, however, don't expect a sharp increase at the pump because global oil supplies are ample and U.S. refineries are producing plenty of gas.

The national average price of a gallon is $3.48, according to AAA, OPIS and Wright Express. That is 16 cents below the post-Memorial Day high of $3.64 on June 10.

Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at GasBuddy.com, predicted the national average will hover between $3.30 and $3.60 for the rest of the summer. That would be somewhat lower than during the past two summers, when gasoline prices spent part of the season above $3.70 per gallon.

Oil prices shot up Wednesday above $101 per barrel, the highest since May 2012, as the crisis in Egypt deepened. Egypt is not a major oil producer but controls the Suez Canal, a major shipping lane for Middle Eastern crude.

While analysts are not expecting a resulting surge in gasoline prices, prices could rise quickly if the Mideast unrest does disrupt oil supplies. Gas could also climb if a hurricane threatens the heart of the refining industry along the Gulf Coast.

Gas prices typically rise in late winter or early spring, when refineries perform maintenance and switch from making winter gasoline blends to the more complex summer blends required for clean-air rules. When the nation's refineries aren't operating at full strength, supplies drop and prices rise. Once the maintenance is done, output rises and prices fall.

"When refineries go down, it can create immediate and severe havoc," Kloza said. "It's a very shallow distribution system, quick to fill and quick to empty."

Regional spikes and plunges are likely to happen more often in coming years. The number of U.S. refineries has shrunk by a quarter since 1993 to 143, but the nation's refining capacity has grown 18 percent since then. The remaining refineries are getting bigger, so if one goes down, it's a bigger shock to the system.

. GAS WATCH

The price of a gallon of regular unleaded gas in the Tampa Bay area:

WednesDAY

$3.360

TuesDAY

$3.367

MonTh ago

$3.371

YEAR ago

$3.104

Source: AAA/Oil Price Information Service

To find the cheapest gas where you live, visit tampabay.com/money.

Gas prices decline as summer heats up 07/03/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 3, 2013 7:58pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Report slams Pinellas construction licensing agency and leaders

    Local Government

    LARGO — The Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board mismanaged its finances, lacked accountability and disregarded its own rules, according to a scathing report released Wednesday by the county's inspector general.

    Rodney Fischer, the executive director of the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board, resigned in January.  [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  2. A meatless burger that tastes like meat? Ciccio Restaurants will serve the Impossible Burger.

    Food & Dining

    TAMPA — The most red-hot hamburger in the nation right now contains no meat.

    Ciccio executive chef Luis Flores prepares an Impossible Burger Wednesday at the Epicurean Hotel Food Theatre in Tampa.
  3. Construction starts on USF medical school, the first piece of Tampa's Water Street project

    Health

    TAMPA — Dozens of workers in hard hats and boots were busy at work at the corner of South Meridian Avenue and Channelside Drive Wednesday morning, signaling the start of construction on the University of South Florida's new Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute.

    Construction is underway for the new Morsani College of Medicine and USF Health Heart Institute in downtown Tampa. This view is from atop Amalie Arena, where local officials gathered Wednesday to celebrate the first piece of what will be the new Water Street District. The USF building is expected to open in late 2019. [ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times]
  4. Tampa Bay among top 25 metro areas with fastest growing economies

    Economic Development

    Tampa Bay had the 24th fastest growing economy among 382 metro areas in the country for 2016. According to an analysis by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, Tampa Bay's gross domestic product, or GDP, increased 4.2 percent from 2015 to 2016 to hit $126.2 billion.

    Tampa Bay had the 24th fastest growing economy in the country for 2016. Rentals were one of the areas that contributed to Tampa Bay's GDP growth. Pictured is attorney David Eaton in front of his rental home. 
[SCOTT KEELER | Times]
  5. Tampa Bay cools down to more moderate home price increases

    Real Estate

    The increase in home prices throughout much of the Tampa Bay area is definitely slowing from the torrid rate a year ago.

    This home close to Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa sold for $3.055 million in August, making it Hillsborough County's top sale of the month. [Courtesy of Bredt Cobitz]