Gas pumps

Gas prices last week fell almost as quickly as they rose.

Statewide prices for regular gasoline rose almost 6 cents within two days, and steadily lowered back down by Tuesday.

What happened? Unfortunately, it’s an enigma.

“Florida gas prices inexplicably increased last week, despite falling fundamentals like oil and wholesale prices, which would normally lead to lower prices at the pump,” said Mark Jenkins, a spokesperson for the American Automobile Association. “Gas stations are able to charge whatever price they want. Competition is what often keeps them low. (There’s) still no good explanation for the recent hike.”

WTI crude oil closed at $53.27 a barrel Tuesday, roughly 20 cents less than last Tuesday, according to OilPrice.com.

Generally, for every $1 the price of oil moves, gas prices adjust by about 2.4 cents, Jenkins said.

“Oil changing by 20 cents or so is not really enough to shift in prices at the pump,” he said.

The highest price for WTI crude oil this year was $66.30 per barrel on April 23. At this time, statewide prices averaged at $2.73.

However, there is a silver lining.

“Despite last week’s abrupt price hike, Florida gas prices remain 20 cents less than this year’s highest daily price,” Jenkins said.

Florida’s state average should be heading toward $2.50 per gallon, he said.

What’s going on locally? As of Tuesday, Englewood has the cheapest average gas at $2.459 a gallon. This is 12 cents less than what it was last Tuesday.

North Port has the second cheapest gas in the region, with $2.481 per gallon, lowering 10 cents since last week.

Port Charlotte and Arcadia fall in the middle, with both having gas stations average at $2.508 a gallon. Port Charlotte stations lowered their prices by 7 cents, while Arcadia gas stations lowered by 5 cents.

Then there’s Venice, which averages out at $2.535 a gallon, 7 cents less than last week.

The most expensive gas in the area is in Punta Gorda, averaging at $2.591 a gallon. Still, prices at these pumps did decline by 9 cents since last week.

What should we expect? Despite last week’s hiccup, gas prices are stabilizing, and may even be inching lower again.

“The highest prices of the year could be in the rear-view mirror,” Jenkins said, with the highest prices statewide at $2.795 per gallon April 12. “With most refineries operating at normal levels, demand at robust rates, and cheaper crude oil prices; summer gas prices are poised to be a little less than last year.”

AAA forecasts Florida gas prices to be around $2.60 this summer; however, many outliers could influence unexpected price bumps, such as demand increases, tightening supplies or even the mere threat of a hurricane.

Previous Florida summer gas prices have averaged at $2.77 in 2018, $2.27 in 2017 and $2.20 in 2016.

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