The average retail price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States plunged more than 25 cents in the last two weeks, as refining capacity was restored and demand slowed, a survey showed Sunday.
The national average for self-serve regular gasoline was $2.659 a gallon Friday, down about 25.3 cents from Oct. 7, according to the nationwide Lundberg survey of about 6,000 gas stations.
“This is the biggest drop in a two-week period that we have ever seen in our many decades surveying the gasoline market,” survey editor Trilby Lundberg said.
Supply is up because of restoration of oil refining capacity along the Gulf of Mexico, which was damaged during hurricanes Katrina and Rita, Lundberg said.
Demand was damped down as consumers cut back on gasoline use in response to skyrocketing prices and evacuations of areas such as the Gulf Coast, which was hit by the storms.
Of the areas surveyed, Honolulu had the highest average price at $3.03 a gallon for self-serve regular gasoline Friday, and the lowest average price was $2.20 a gallon in Tulsa, Okla.
Preliminary data show that gasoline demand is 2% to 3% lower than it was a year earlier, Lundberg said.
The current U.S. average price for a gallon of gasoline is just 3 cents above the pre-Katrina price, Lundberg said. “It’s been a real roller coaster since then,” she said.
Lundberg said Hurricane Wilma, which is bearing down on Florida after hitting Mexico, seems to be benign to gas supply, but not to gasoline demand.
“The evacuations do remove some demand,” she said.