Gas Prices Below $3 In Much Of Downstate
Gasoline is now selling for under $3 for a gallon of Regular in many parts of Illinois outside of the Chicago area..
And more areas could join them soon. Analyst Patrick DeHaan with the price-tracking website GasBuddy.com says the low prices could be around for much of the winter, thanks to a price war among the OPEC oil nations. .
Usually, gasoline prices start to rise around the New Year, after bottoming out in December. But DeHaan thinks that this year, the low prices may stay around a little longer.
"Much is going to depend on if more countries cut their prices, and if there’s more competition", said DeHaan. "These, prices, if OPEC would continue feuding, these relatively low prices could stick around perhaps a month or two longer. I don’t believe prices will remain this low going into the spring, however."
DeHaan says high domestic oil production due to fracking also contributes to low gasoline prices. And he says so far, the low gas prices have led to only slightly higher sales volumes. As of Monday afternoon, the lowest gas prices in downstate Illinois were at $2.69 for a gallon of Regular at some gas stations in Decatur.
Gas was still above $3 a gallon in Danville, Clinton and Paris Illinois.
The price of regular-grade gasoline is as high as $4.09 a gallon in Champaign-Urbana. Area gas stations started raising their prices last Friday, as University of Illinois students prepared to leave for spring break.
Patrick DeHaan of the price-tracking site GasBuddy.com says the $4 price mark is a significant one ... which retailers usually avoid as long as they can.
"You know, there's a lot of negative PR associated with it", says DeHann, "and the station gets a lot of fingers pointed at them. So generally the station would be willing to accept less profit to keep the price down. But unfortunately when it comes to be too much, when push comes to shove, stations will raise their price over that mark, if they absolutely have to." Now that they've reached the $4 point in Champaign-Urbana, DeHaan says motorists can expect prices to decrease --- but only in the short-term.
"After prices go up across a widespread area, they tend to go down in the days following", says DeHaan. "But I do expect the long-term trend will remain upward. So, for the Champaign-Urbana area, we'll see the roller-coaster ride continue. Prices will go up sharply, and they may go down a few days after, then they may go up even higher."
DeHaan advises motorists to put off buying from gas stations that have just raised their prices ... because it's likely that prices will start going down again. He expects gasoline prices to continue rising through May, with some dropoff possible in June.
DeHaan says gasoline prices in Champaign-Urbana are following a trend that's common throughout the Great Lakes states. He says the higher prices are due to several factors, including problems with a Midwest pipeline, retooling and maintenance at oil refineries and concerns among oil speculators about possible conflict with Iran.