AAA says gasoline prices should fall in September through the end of the year as people drive less and because refineries can produce a less expensive winter-blend gasoline. AAA expects gas prices nationally could decline another 10-20 cents per gallon by the end of October, barring any major refinery or overseas problems.
Last year, U.S. driving declined nearly 10 percent in September compared to August, according to the Federal Highway Administration. The decline in driving during cooler months helps to reduce gasoline demand. In addition, refineries will begin to sell less expensive winter-blend gasoline in many parts of the country on September 15, which should further push prices down.
Refineries in many regions are required to produce more expensive summer-blend gasoline during warm-weather months to prevent air pollution and smog. As the weather grows cooler, this gasoline blend is no longer required. In the days leading up to September 15, supplies of summer-blend gasoline occasionally can tighten before the deadline, which could lead to very short-term and localized price increases around the middle of the month.
A Summer of Contrasts for Drivers: High to Start, Lower to Finish
It was a summer of contrasts for consumers, starting out with drivers paying the highest seasonal prices in years, and ending with travelers paying the lowest prices since 2010. The national average price of gas was $3.67 per gallon in June and $3.60 per gallon in July. By the end of August, gas prices nationally averaged $3.46 per gallon, which was the least expensive average for the month since 2010.
Gas Prices Reach Six-Month Low to Begin September
Consumers this week were paying the lowest average prices since late February. At $3.43 on Thursday, the average was about 16 cents per gallon cheaper than a year ago and the lowest average for the same day since 2010. The national average has remained under $3.50 per gallon for 31 consecutive days.