Gas prices expected to drop as coronavirus hits oil market

A vehicle in Forest Grove. Photo: Chas Hundley

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Here’s some good news for the wallets and pocketbooks of Washington County residents.

GasBuddy, a website and cell phone app that tracks real-time gas prices in the U.S., released data that found the national average of a price of a gallon of regular gasoline dropped 12.8 cents during the last week to $2.08.

For those who must travel during Oregon’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order, it’s a bit of sunshine in an otherwise gloomy economic scene for many.

The data came from a compilation of more than 11 million individual price reports from 150,000-or-so U.S. gas stations, GasBuddy’s report says.

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GasBuddy data also show the most inexpensive gas in Oregon gets pumped in Albany for $2.15 at Costco, located at 3130 Killdeer Ave. 

Drivers in the city of Banks are not so lucky at the pump. A gallon of regular gasoline at the Chevron station located at 640 S. Main Street, and at the Shell station at 182 N. Main Street, each sell for $2.99 as of Monday. 

But here’s the good news for residents of Banks, Gales Creek, Buxton, and all U.S. motorists.

If the downward trend continues, which industry analysts expect,  GasBuddy and AAA Oregon-Idaho expect prices to fall 50 cents or more per gallon during the next two to three weeks, and in some regions of the U.S., particularly the south and midwest, gas prices are predicted to drop below $1 per gallon for the first time since 2002.  

“Gas prices have spent virtually all of March marching lower, with the drop continuing as the coronavirus destroys oil demand globally, leading to the lowest oil prices we’ve seen in 18 years, paving the way for still an additional 35- to 75-cents-per-gallon drop at most stations in the weeks ahead,” said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy. 

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a collapse in prices, even including the Great Recession,” DeHaan continued. “What we’re witnessing is easily going to go down as the greatest collapse in oil demand (ever). And for motorists hurrying to fill up today, they’re wasting their money as prices will continue to drop in the days ahead.” 

More than 25 percent of U.S. gas stations nationally were selling a gallon of gasoline for about $2 as of Monday morning, March 23, and five percent of those stations sold gas for less than $1.75 per gallon. 

$1.99 per gallon was the most common gas price across the nation on Monday, followed by $1.89, $1.79 and $1.69. 

Meanwhile, 10 percent of the most expensive gas stations sold gas at an average of $3.03 per gallon. By comparison, 10 percent of the cheapest stations nationwide sold gas at an average of $1.59 per gallon. 

The median U.S. price-per-gallon is $1.97, down 16-cents in the last week.

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