Monday, December 1, 2014

Local gasoline prices edging lower

Just like many of you, I've been waiting to see local gas prices nose below $3 a gallon, and today it looks like we have a winner. The Tesoro station at 125 S. 25th East has regular unleaded listed at $2.919 a gallon.

Don't everybody head out there at once. Although we have been lagging behind other parts of the country -- on Tuesday, Idaho gas prices were reported the seventh highest in the nation -- we can expect lower prices between now and the end of the year, said Dave Carlson, AAA Idaho spokesman.

Today, the nation's average is $2.76 -- 52 cents less than a year ago and the lowest average price since the 2010 holiday season.
Even some parts of Idaho have been following suit. Last Tuesaday, the average price per gallon in Coeur d'Alene on Tuesday was $2.80, and in neighboring Post Falls, typically higher than in Coeur d'Alene, it was $2.79. In Idaho Falls, however, it was more in line with the statewide the average of $3.06.

I know some of you have been tearing your hair over this, but let's keep things in perspective. This is the lowest price since February 2011 and 71 cents cheaper than it was on Labor Day.

"Lower pump prices should be around for a while," Carlson said. "Gas prices are down thanks to lower oil prices, weak demand here and abroad and plentiful unconstrained gas and oil supplies."

On the global front, Saudi Arabia's oil minister told fellow OPEC members on Thursday it was a bad idea to cut output. The Saudi view is to keep the spigot turned on in order to undermine the profitability of North American producers. This strategy could work over time. It costs the Saudis a lot less to get their oil from desert compared to the highly involved fracking process American producers have been using. But we're likely to see oil prices to continue dropping.

Carlson said Idaho's Idaho prices have stayed higher on the national scale because there is less incentive for retailers to cut prices. "An isolated market means less competitive factors," he said.

Also, any retailer who has bought gas at a higher wholesale price has to keep the price higher to make any sort of margin. It the station across the road gets a new shipment at a lower rack price, that's when the first retailer is more likely to slash prices in order to stay competitive.