Nov. 26–Just in time for the holidays, filling up the tank is less of a pain in the wallet. Prices fell to the lowest of 2018 across most of Florida, with Palm Beach County’s pumps checking in a few pennies above a January low.
Oil prices rebounded a bit to start the week after a Black Friday plunge, but a spokesman for motorist group AAA said Monday that barring drastic producer cutbacks or some other unforeseen shock, low prices for gasoline “should hang around” through the end of the year.
“Florida motorists should see gas prices drop another five to 15 cents as a direct result of the recent crude drop,” said AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins. “These falling prices are mostly due to record crude production rates from the U.S., Russia and Saudi Arabia.”
For drivers, that translated to a Florida average of $2.42 per gallon by Sunday, a 2018 low. The average pump price has fallen 39 cents in 47 days.
In Palm Beach County, the average of $2.59 Sunday landed just above a $2.56 price on Jan. 1, 2018. This week, Panama City had the state’s highest average price at $2.79. Tampa had the cheapest gas at $2.25.
Crude oil prices account for about 57 percent of the cost of the average gallon of gas, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Taxes add an average of 16 percent, distribution and marketing 13 percent and refining 14 percent.
Taxes and the costs of doing business can vary in local markets, but retailers also set prices based partly on what they think they drivers are willing to pay. That’s why stations in affluent cities or near major traffic arteries often set prices higher than some competitors, figuring drivers either aren’t worried about the costs or are willing to pay more for convenience.
Prices continued to vary significantly within Palm Beach County’s cities, putting a premium on shopping around. — In Palm Beach Gardens on Monday, a $2.39 price at Sunoco on State Road 811 contrasted with $3.05 at Shell on PGA Boulevard and Military Trail, according to price-tracker GasBuddy.com. — In Royal Palm Beach, prices ranged from $2.39 at Marathon on State Road 7 and Fairgrounds Boulevard to $2.49 at Sunoco on State Road 7, GasBuddy said. — In Boca Raton, a reported price of $2.29 at Costco on Congress Ave. came in sharply lower than $2.62 at two Shell stations in the city. — In West Palm Beach on Monday, $2.24 at Sam’s Club on 45th Street led the way, though at least nine other stations were within 8 cents per gallon of that price.
Lower prices have led to AAA predictions of higher traffic volume during the holidays. Noticeable effects may vary, but a Palm Beach County family returning from North Carolina over the holiday weekend encountered near-standstill traffic for two hours on Sunday on portions of Interstate 95 in the Carolinas with only two lanes available in each direction.
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