Jul. 27—After months of spikes, area gas prices dropped slightly last week amidst a surge in COVID-19 cases and uncertainty surrounding oil production in the Middle East.
According to GasBuddy, gas prices in Kansas have fallen nearly two cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $2.90 per gallon as of Monday afternoon, according to the group's daily survey of 1,329 stations across the state. Despite the slight drop, gas prices in Kansas continue to maintain recent gains, standing about 4.4 cents per gallon higher than a month ago and 95 cents per gallon higher than a year ago at the height of initial waves of the pandemic.
"With oil prices struggling under the weight of a rise in new COVID cases thanks to the Delta variant and OPEC's increase in oil production, average gas prices in most states finally drifted lower," said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy.
Locally, Great Bend gas stations' prices showed little variation, ranging from $2.92 to $2.94 per gallon as of Monday afternoon. This was consistent with surrounding areas in the Golden Belt region, with prices ranging from $2.92 in Pawnee and Stafford counties, to $2.95 in Ellinwood, $2.98 in Hoisington, and $3 to $3.03 in portions of Rush County. The area's highest prices were in Hays, at nearly $3.04 per gallon.
According to GasBuddy price reports, the cheapest station in Kansas was $2.33 per gallon Monday, while the most expensive was $3.44 per gallon, a difference of $1.11. The Wichita area averaged $2.95 per gallon, down 1.7 cents per gallon from last week's $2.96, while the Topeka area averaged $2.94 per gallon, down 2.1 cents per gallon from last week's $2.96.
The Golden Belt and the state remain well below the national average of $3.14 per gallon, according to reports. The national average has dropped about three cents per gallon in the last week. Much like in Kansas, the national average is up 4.7 cents per gallon from a month ago and stands 97.2 cents per gallon higher than a year ago.
DeHaan, however, said the slight relief in gas prices may be short lived as Americans continue to travel at a high rate.
"We aren't yet in the clear — U.S. gasoline demand last week surged to a new 2021 high, besting the week prior to the July 4 holiday," DeHaan said. "This shows that motorists aren't slowing their appetite for hitting the road just yet, and that could further boost prices should demand remain hot. For now, motorists should enjoy the perhaps brief respite at the pump and buckle up for what might be a bumpy finish to summer."