The national average dipped to $2.44 per gallon, which is nearly a full dollar cheaper than prices at the same time previous year.
Thank crude oil’s 13 percent plunge this year to $46.17 a barrel as of Friday on the New York Mercantile Exchange for relief at filling stations.
But now, heading into the unofficial last weekend of summer, the lowest Labor Day gasoline price in 11 years is expected to produce the highest travel rates in six years.
With oil prices diving by more than 50 percent since last summer, the low prices are no surprise, analysts say.
OPEC’s refusal to cut production and the likelihood of Iran pumping an additional 1 million barrels per day once the sanctions are lifted will put further downward pressure on gasoline and diesel prices for the next several years.
The U.S. Department of Energy has predicted that the prices of diesel and regular gasoline should remain low well into 2016. USA supplies of gasoline are above where they were at this time a year ago. The prices represent an astonishing reversal from recent years.
Behind the low gasoline prices are widespread fears that the global economy is slowing, along with a resilient expansion of domestic oil production. They can’t make one type of fuel, like diesel, without also turning out gasoline. In the August Short-Term Energy Outlook, EIA forecasts US regular gasoline prices to decline to an average of $2.11/g during the fourth quarter of 2015, and projects an annual average retail gasoline price of $2.41/g for 2015.
A 19-day streak of decreases to the Orange County average price ended Thursday when it rose 1.5 cents to $3.493.
Now prices everywhere are falling, but Western drivers are still paying far more than the national average.
The cheapest gasoline can be found in South Carolina at $2.02 per gallon.