Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Gasoline Price Drop a Surprise

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Gasoline Price Drop a Surprise

Article excerpt

SUPPLY AND DEMAND: Area could see another nickel or so drop this week

A funny thing has happened on the way to higher gas prices: They've dropped.

Despite late 2012 predictions of a gas price spike in the new year, the cost per gallon in Southwest Florida is at its lowest point -- for mid-April -- since 2003, according to data from GasBuddy.com.

April is traditionally when gas prices start to rise in preparation for the summer driving season, but thanks to more surplus than demand at Gulf Coast refineries, prices are falling -- to an average of $3.60 per gallon in the Sarasota-Bradenton area.

"Crude oil prices are down, and it appears that gasoline supply is outpacing consumer demand right now," said Gregg Laskoski, a Tampa-based senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com. "All of these things are favorable for consumers."

The downward trend began in March, when the Labor Department reported payrolls increased by just 88,000 nationally, the smallest increase in nine months, said Jessica Brady, a spokeswoman with auto club group AAA.

"Last year we saw prices peak during the month of April, which is usually when the prices start to increase before the summer season," Brady said.

"This year, however, we saw a peak in prices in February, and it has steadily declined in March and so far in April. Although there is a lot of uncertainty around when prices will go up again, we could see another 5- to 6-cent drop again this week in prices," she said.

At this time last year, the average price for gas in Southwest Florida was $3.98, she said.

Oil closed Friday at $92.70 per barrel, about $4.53 less than the week before.

Gas nationally is hovering around $3.60, four cents less than the week before, though drivers are still paying an average of $4.36 in Hawaii, and some reports indicate that the price has dropped below the $3 mark in a few Rocky Mountain communities, near major refineries.

The federal Energy Information Administration says the country's fuel inventories are now at a 22-year peak. …

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