Metro-East News

Local gas prices expected to continue plunge

Local drivers can expect to see cheaper gas prices ahead and leave $3-a-gallon prices in the rear view mirror.

Around the metro-east on Friday, gasoline was seen as low as $2.37 a gallon, when it was $2.99 just a couple of weeks ago.

AAA-St. Louis spokesman Mike Right said he expects metro-east gas prices to fall closer to $2 a gallon by the end of the year. He said a recent outage at a BP refinery in Whiting, Ind., that supplies the Midwest led to a spike in the price at the pump. He also said that closer to home, the Phillips 66 Wood River Refinery in Roxana had recently lost operation of one of its towers, but was still able to meet demand.

“Any time you get a hiccup in refinery distribution, things can get out of whack very quickly,” Right said.

Now, the Indiana refinery is back on line and crude oil prices remain at six-year lows, which has helped pushed local gas prices back down. Right said local gas prices should continue to fall after the upcoming Labor Day weekend, as many Americans usually plan to travel, and the seasonal shift to cheaper winter-blend gasoline occurs next month. He also said metro-east gas prices could reach fall to $2 a gallon and below $2 across the river.

“I think we’ll see some prices in Missouri in the $1.80 range,” Right said. “That would suggest there will be some prices very close to $2 a gallon in Illinois.”

As a result, wholesale gas prices have been falling in recent weeks. Right said between Aug. 3 and Thursday, whole gas prices had fallen from $1.69 a gallon to $1.42 a gallon.

“That’s probably going to be a harbinger of what is to come,” he said. “We’re seeing continuing pressure on the price of crude oil.”

Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for online gas price track GasBuddy.com, said the recent drop in the stock market has also helped pushed down gas prices. He said gas stations throughout the Midwest that were impacted by the Indiana refinery shutdown could see per-gallon prices fall by as much as 50 cents within the next two weeks now that the refinery is back in operation. He also anticipates gas prices throughout the Midwest will continue to drop because the winter-blend gasoline should provide consumers with 10 to 20 cents in savings per gallon.

“We can’t predict the news, but everything that is going on out there now definitely looks like sub-$2 a gallon for quite a bit of the country by the end of the year,” DeHaan said. “That is a very conservative estimate. Realistically, it will be sooner.”

Contact reporter Will Buss at wbuss@bnd.com or 618-239-2526.

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