Motoring|

US petrol prices fall ahead of Thanksgiving

Fuel stationPetrol prices in the US have fallen over seven cents across the country over the last two weeks, but some of the regions that were hit by Superstorm Sandy have seen prices rise.  Research by Lundberg Survey found that the national average for regular petrol has dropped over 36 cents to $3.47 per gallon in the last six weeks.  Midgrade petrol has fallen to $3.65 per gallon, while premium has dropped to $3.78.  There has also been a four cent decline in diesel prices to $4.04.

The Lundberg Survey gathers prices from thousands of fuelling stations across the US.  The lowest average price of regular petrol is $3.04 per gallon in Memphis, Tennessee; and the highest average is $4.18 in Long Island, New York.  There are also rather big differences between prices across some states.  For example, the lowest average price of petrol is $3.77 in Sacramento, California.  But the highest average is $3.83 in Bakersfield.  The state’s overall average is $3.77.  In the Northeast, Superstorm Sandy lowered demand, and because drivers had trouble getting to fuelling stations, fuel prices rose in some areas.

Lundberg Survey president Trilby Lundberg says that this latest fall in petrol prices is mostly due to weak demand, which usually happens at this time of the year and when Daylight Savings Time isn’t in effect any longer.  However, the national average is still nine cents more than last year’s prices.  Despite this, good news should be coming for consumers, as pump prices could drop even more unless crude oil prices are really stirred up by the conflict in the Middle East or another geopolitical problem.

However, Patrick DeHaan, a senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com, says that Americans will be hopping onto major roads in mass volumes over the Thanksgiving holiday.  National petrol prices will be the highest ever for the holiday despite having dropped over the last month-and-a-half.  He doesn’t see how they will fall anymore between now and Christmas due to the new Middle Eastern military action and other pressures.  It’s almost certain the national average won’t fall under $3.25 a gallon.

This follows the AAA giving its guidance on fuel prices for the month, with the national average said to be $3.44 per gallon for regular as of 12 November.  This followed a national peak of $3.87 on 14 September, the day before many areas of the US switched from selling a summer blend of petrol to a winter blend.  However, there were still nine states that saw prices rise over the week prior to the report – many in the Northeast, where just 40% to 50% were open in New York City and New Jersey.

The decline in petrol prices is great news for the millions of Americans who will be driving this Thanksgiving.  Last week, the AAA projected that some 43.6 million people will travel 50 miles or more from home for the holiday – which is 0.7% more than last year.  The holiday travel period is marked between 21 November and 25 November.

The AAA says that some 90% of travellers are expected to make their journeys by car, up 0.6% from last year.  Robert Darbelnet, the president and chief executive of the AAA, says that there has been a steady rise in traveller numbers on the roads and in the air since the nation hit a decade low in 2008.  Americans are finding ways to economise their budgets so they can visit family and friends on Turkey Day.

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