July 18–DAYTONA BEACH — After an abrupt spike in gasoline prices last week, the cost of a gallon of regular gas is inching downward due to plunging stock market fuel prices, AAA auto club reports.
Gas prices in Florida are 8 cents higher than a week ago. The state average of $2.80 per gallon for regular is 12 cents less than the year’s high, and 66 cents more than at this time last year, AAA reports.
In Daytona Beach, the cost of a gallon of regular gas on Tuesday ranged from $2.69 to $3.09, according to the online price-tracking site gasbuddy.com. In Flagler County, the cost ranged from $2.77 to $2.79 in Palm Coast, on the same website.
“Prices are higher than they were last week, but they are on their way back down,” said Mark Jenkins, AAA spokesman. “The thing with gas prices is they tend to rise like a rocket, but fall like a feather. Last week saw a 10-cent increase during the week. Since that time, it has been common to see a penny decline per day.”
Despite that, AAA reports that motorists are finding the most expensive summer gas prices in four years. Since June 1, Florida gas prices averaged $2.76 per gallon — an increase of nearly 50 cents compared to the average price last summer. However, current prices remain 20 cents below this year’s high, set during Memorial Day weekend.
“Reduced global oil supplies have caused summer travelers to pay a higher price at the pump this year,” Jenkins said. “Fortunately, domestic gasoline production remains strong, which should help prevent major swings in summer gas prices.”
Jenkins cautioned that pump prices will rise rapidly if a major hurricane threatens refineries along the Gulf Coast. Last year, Hurricane Harvey caused a 40 cent spike, he said.
Last week’s price jump was another indication of the impact of refinery issues, Jenkins said.
“Florida gas prices quickly jumped Wednesday and Thursday, after reports surfaced of seven gulf coast refineries dealing with various operational issues,” Jenkins said. “Some of the issues have already been resolved, while others could take weeks.”
For instance, the Motiva refinery in Port Arthur, Texas, the largest in the country, suffered a mechanical outage to one of their catalytic crackers, an important component for converting oil to other fuels. The outage might not be repaired until August and likely will cause reduced output, Jenkins said.
Fortunately, fuel prices plunged on the stock market last week, creating downward pressure on pump prices, Jenkins said.
“Oil prices were around $74 per barrel last week,” Jenkins said. “Today they are around $68 per barrel. A $6 shift in oil prices can lead a shift of about a 15 cent per gallon in gas prices. We’ve seen some plunging prices in oil and gasoline on the stock market that makes it cheaper for wholesalers to get fuel. That is passed along to retailers and to the consumer.”
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