CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Gas prices continue to drop in most parts of the country due to abundant fuel supplies and declining crude oil costs. South Carolina currently has the lowest gas prices in the country, with an average price of $1.86. Nearly 90 percent of gas stations in South Carolina are selling fuel for under $2 per gallon today. North Carolina's average price of gas is slightly higher than South Carolina's, at $2.05.
Average prices are about 55 cents less than a year ago, which is motivating millions of Americans to take advantage of cheap gas by taking long road trips this summer. Prices in North and South Carolina are down significantly from a month ago, when North Carolina's average price of gas was $2.21 and South Carolina's was $2.02.
Gas prices likely will remain relatively low compared to recent years for the remainder of the summer. U.S. crude oil supplies are about 13 percent higher than a year ago, while gasoline stocks have increased to 240 million barrels as refineries produce significant quantities of fuel. This is the highest ever mark for gasoline supplies during the month of July, according to Department of Energy records.
Despite paying the lowest seasonal prices in 12 years, there is always the possibility that unexpected events could lead to higher prices later this summer. For example, crude oil costs could rise due to disruptions in supply, stronger than expected economic growth or geopolitical tensions overseas. In addition, regional prices could increase due to refinery problems, production cuts, stronger than anticipated demand or hurricanes that impact distribution and production.
The national average price of gas is down a fraction of a cent for the day, three cents for the week, 13 cents for the month and 55 cents compared to a year ago.
Average gas prices are below $2 per gallon in seven states today including: South Carolina ($1.88), Mississippi ($1.97), Oklahoma ($1.97), Tennessee ($1.97), Alabama ($1.97), Arkansas ($1.98) and Missouri ($1.996).
The West Coast continues to be the most expensive market for gasoline, including the only six states in the nation where drivers are paying more than $2.50 on average: California ($2.85), Hawaii ($2.82), Washington ($2.67), Alaska ($2.65), Nevada ($2.55) and Oregon ($2.53).
Only 12 percent of U.S. stations are selling gas for more than $2.50 per gallon today.
America's refining capacity is in the Southeastern United States, and abundant production should keep prices relatively low unless there is an unexpected event, such as a major hurricane.
Oil Market Dynamics
WTI oil prices have dipped below $45 per barrel over the past couple of weeks to the lowest levels since late April. Oil continues to drop due to the potential for steady production and abundant supplies. Many analysts have predicted that oil prices could drop even further later this year, which would likely lead to lower gas prices. At the close of Friday's formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI was up 27 cents to settle at $45.95 per barrel. Prices this morning had headed lower and were briefly below $45 per barrel.