Austin drivers are receiving at least one holiday gift — gasoline prices in the metro area continue to fall.
The average price in Austin has dropped 10 cents per gallon in the past week, and currently averages $2.71 per gallon of regular unleaded gasoline, according to industry website GasBuddy, which tracks fuel prices across the country.
Prices in Austin are 41 cents per gallon lower than a month ago and 14 cents lower than a year ago, according to GasBuddy's survey of 830 stations in Austin. The cheapest station in Austin is currently priced at $2.31 a gallon while the most expensive is $4.49 a gallon.
The national average price of gasoline has fallen 16 cents per gallon in the past week to $3.36, according to GasBuddy data compiled from more than 11 million weekly price reports covering 150,000 stations across the country. That's down 43 cents per gallon from a month ago.
"For the first time in 670 days, the national average price of gasoline has fallen below its year-ago level, dropping for the fourth straight week to its lowest level since January," said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy.
Every state has again seen average gasoline prices drop in the past week, and it remains possible the national average could fall under $3 per gallon by Christmas, De Haan said. He predicted that this week diesel prices will fall back under $5 per gallon, and could soon fall to their lowest level since March.
"However, despite all the good news about fuel prices, there may be some concerns coming as the price cap on Russian oil kicks in," De Haan said. "Retaliation is possible, and while OPEC+ upheld production cuts from last month, they could always cut more production. For now, however, we'll likely see another week of declines at the pump in nearly all areas."
At a meeting on Sunday, the Saudi-led OPEC oil cartel and allied producers including Russia did not change their targets for shipping oil to the global economy. That comes amid uncertainty about the impact of new Western sanctions against Russia that could take significant amounts of oil off the market.
The decision at a meeting of oil ministers Sunday comes a day ahead of the planned start of two measures aimed at hitting Russia’s oil earnings in response to its invasion of Ukraine. Those are: a European Union boycott of most Russian oil and a price cap of $60 per barrel on Russian exports imposed by the EU and the Group of Seven democracies.
It is not yet clear how much Russian oil the two sanctions measures could take off the global market, which would tighten supply and drive up prices. The world’s No. 2 oil producer has been able to reroute much, but not all, of its former Europe shipments to India, China and Turkey.
The impact of the price cap is also up in the air because Russia has said it could simply halt deliveries to countries that observe the limit. But analysts say the country would likely also find ways to evade the cap for some shipments.
Oil has been trading at lower prices on fears that COVID-19 outbreaks and China's strict zero-COVID restrictions would reduce demand for fuel in one of the world's biggest economies. Concerns about recessions in the U.S. and Europe also raise the prospect of lower demand for gasoline and other fuel made from crude.
China is set to announce a further easing of some of the world's toughest COVID curbs as early as Wednesday, according to Reuters. Investors on Monday cheered the prospect of a policy shift that follows widespread protests and mounting economic damage.
With the global economy slowing, oil prices have been falling since summertime highs, with international benchmark Brent closing Friday at $85.42 per barrel, down from $98 a month ago. That has eased gasoline prices for drivers around the world.
Meanwhile, auto club AAA Texas said crude oil prices have been on the rebound recently, and crude oil makes up approximately 50 to 60% of the cost of a gallon of gas.
“If crude prices continue to increase, the downward trend in retail fuel prices may slow or reverse,” AAA Texas spokesperson Daniel Armbruster said.
Additional material from the Associated Press.
This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: Austin gas prices drop 10 cents per gallon — for now