Gas prices holding steady

12/28/2012

Local average at $3.22 compared to $3.07 nationally.

Local average at $3.22 compared to $3.07 nationally.

BY ANGIE HAFLICH

ahaflich@gctelegram.com

Over the past few weeks, national average gas prices have been on the decrease, but appear to be steadying out again.

At the same time, gas prices in Garden City have remained higher than the state and national averages, although they've remained steady.

"Gas prices had fallen steadily for more than three months, as the transition to less-expensive, winter-blend gasoline; cheaper crude oil prices; increasing gasoline inventories; lower demand; and continued economic concerns have meant relief at the pump for drivers across the country. The national average was $3.87 on Sept. 14, the day before much of the country began the seasonal fuel changeover, and dropped to a 2012 low of $3.22 last Thursday, Dec. 20," Avery Ash, manager of federal relations for AAA, said in a news release Monday.

As of Thursday, the national average for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline was $3.07 per gallon.

Contributing to this trend, gas prices in some parts of eastern Kansas have reported prices below the three-dollar mark recently.

According to kansasgasprices.com, prices for unleaded fuel were as low as $2.86 a gallon in Topeka, the lowest reported price in the state as of Thursday. Other areas in eastern Kansas, including Lawrence, Pittsburg, Lindsborg and Baxter Springs, reported unleaded gas prices ranging from $2.88 to $2.93 per gallon.

Higher prices in the state fell in a range from $3.19 to $3.39 per gallon in McPherson, Cherryvale, Garden City, Fredonia, Paola, Marysville, Ellsworth, Liberal, WaKeeney and Coffeyville.

As of Thursday afternoon, Garden City's average price was $3.228 per gallon, according to AAA's fuel price finder website, aaa.opisnet.com.

That average hasn't fluctuated much in either the past week, when the average was $3.204, or the past month, when the average was $3.264. Compared to this same time last year, the average price has only gone up about five cents per gallon.

Garden City's average gas prices are higher than other areas of southwest Kansas. As of Thursday, according to the AAA website, Dodge City's average was at $3.155 per gallon, Liberal's was at $3.202, Scott City's was at $3.097, and Syracuse's was at $3.149.

Kansas, as a whole, typically has lower gas prices than other parts of the country. Hanni said that this is largely due to demand and the location of refineries.

He also said that the fluctuations in gas prices this year have been driven by a number of factors.

"There has been a lot of demand destruction during this year, even with all the ups in gas prices, there have been some significant downs and a lot of it has to do with the destruction of demand that has occurred because of the economy and people cutting back, or they're finding more efficient cars to drive, and all those things play into that.

"There are so many factors, it's hard to really predict or to pin why something's happening on one particular factor, but of late, at least, with the drop in gas prices, those factors I mentioned are really driving it — that is the cheaper, winter fuel blends now have helped, and inventories of gasoline have been extraordinarily high, while demand has been very, very low. And of course, you've still got an economy struggling and all that," Hanni said.

In Monday's news release, Ash went onto say that national gas prices may not continue to decrease.

"As crude oil prices have firmed, the decline in retail gasoline prices has slowed and now reversed. Whether gas prices continue to rise or again turn lower will be impacted by action — or inaction — in Washington surrounding the looming 'fiscal cliff.' If a deal is reached before the end-of-year deadline, it will likely be seen as positive for the U.S. economy, which could send crude prices and gas prices higher. If a deal is not reached, markets are likely to slump, and gas prices could go even lower," Ash said.

The AAA website and kansasgasprices.com track the most recent fuel prices by station, in locally, statewide and nationally.

The AAA website discover.aaa.com/Outreach/GasInfo calculates current gas prices based upon consumers swiping fleet cards when purchasing gasoline and collects data from 100,000 gas stations around the country. Prices recorded on kansasgasprices.com are obtained from consumers who input the prices they observe at various locations throughout the state.

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