The national gas price average has held steady at $2.49 for nine straight days but a trend of decreased consumer demand signals the possibility of a drop in fuel prices, according to AAA.
The average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline in Arkansas on Monday was $2.23, with the lowest prices in Fort Smith reported at Gasbuddy.com was $2.09. Oklahoma’s state average Monday at Gasbuddy.com was $2.20. AAA had slightly higher numbers, placing Arkansas’ state average at $2.24, and Oklahoma’s state average at $2.25.
“On average, gas prices are 12 cents more expensive than a year ago,” Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson, stated Monday. “However, on the week consumer demand for gasoline decreased. If this continues, gas prices will decrease in the weeks ahead."
The Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) latest petroleum status report for the week ending on Dec. 29 found that gasoline inventories measure near a two-year high at 32.9 million barrels.
“Healthy refining output rates and increased gasoline imports are contributing to the high inventory volume, which has helped to keep prices in the region mostly stable on the week,” AAA states.
Although the market dropped slightly last week, end-of-year gains were significant according to the EIA. Among the 2017 U.S. crude highlights were:
• Crude oil prices at the end of the year were the highest year-end prices since 2013.
• U.S. crude production increased by more than 384,000 barrels a day to 9.2 million barrels a day, based on confirmed data through September 2017.
• Crude oil exports averaged 1 million barrels a day through October — a record high and increase of 445,000 b/d from the 2016 average.
"These facts have given the market greater optimism about the potential of prices continuing to climb in 2018, as OPEC’s agreement to reduce production will remain in effect through the end of this year and will help to restrain growing inventories," AAA noted Monday. "However, growing U.S. production amid higher global demand growth has given some pause to these optimistic market observations. U.S. production rates in coming months will give a clearer picture. The latest weekly active rig count report from Baker Hughes Inc. found the U.S. dropped by five rigs to land at 742."