Florida gas prices drop to 4-year low

Plummeting demand from the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in rock-bottom oil prices.
The price of gas is currently down to as low as $1.69 per gallon in some areas including this Marathon gas station on West Green Street, Monday, April 20, 2020 in Tampa.
The price of gas is currently down to as low as $1.69 per gallon in some areas including this Marathon gas station on West Green Street, Monday, April 20, 2020 in Tampa. [ MARTHA ASENCIO RHINE | Times ]
Published Apr. 20, 2020

An ever worsening crude oil glut has led to sharply falling prices at the gas pump. But not everyone’s enjoying the savings.

Few people are driving because of shelter-at-home orders in response to the coronavirus pandemic. And that’s fueling the glut.

The result is sub-$2 gas prices across the country, according to AAA, the Auto Club Group. Florida rang in its lowest average gas prices in four years Monday at $1.81 per gallon. That’s the lowest daily average price since March 2016.

It matched the national average.

And pump prices were even lower locally — Tampa Bay averaged $1.74 per gallon. According to Mark Jenkins, spokesman for AAA, 99 percent of Tampa Bay gas stations had prices below $2. Across the state, 94 percent of gas stations were offering gas for less than $2. Even Florida’s most expensive markets (West Palm Beach and Gainesville) averaged $1.99 per gallon, AAA said.

Stay-at-home orders aimed at halting the spread of COVID-19 are causing people to limit driving to essential errands. The drop in demand is leading to strange happenings in the wholesale oil markets.

On Monday, some crude oil futures fell below zero for the cost of a barrel.

“It’s unheard of,” Jenkins said. “It’s never happened before.”

The decline in demand has been compounded by the lack of space to store the extra oil that’s being produced. Not enough is being consumed to clear room for more.

“Right now the way it stands, those who have oil would need to pay the buyer to take it off their hands,” Jenkins said.

Analysts with S&P Global Platts, a commodities analysis firm, described the price movement a short-term anomaly, according to a report from business news service Bloomberg.

And while the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries reached an agreement with Russia last week to reduce production by about 10 percent, there is still more oil being produced than is being used.

• • •

Tampa Bay Times coronavirus coverage

HAVE YOU LOST SOMEONE YOU LOVE TO COVID-19?: Help us remember them

UNEMPLOYMENT Q&A: We answer your questions about Florida unemployment benefits

CONTRIBUTE TO THE SCRAPBOOK: Help us tell the story of life under coronavirus

BRIGHT SPOTS IN DARK TIMES: The world is hard right now, but there’s still good news out there

LISTEN TO THE CORONAVIRUS PODCAST: New episodes every week, including interviews with experts and reporters

HAVE A TIP?: Send us confidential news tips

GET THE DAYSTARTER MORNING UPDATE: Sign up to receive the most up-to-date information, six days a week

WATCH VIDEO: How some in Tampa Bay are finding light amid isolation

We’re working hard to bring you the latest news on the coronavirus in Florida. This effort takes a lot of resources to gather and update. If you haven’t already subscribed, please consider buying a print or digital subscription.