Gasoline Prices Down This Week In Illinois
Gasoline prices have gone down in the past week. The price-tracking website GasBuddy says the average price for a gallon of Regular-grade gas in Champaign-Urbana was $2.74 on Monday, down 20 cents from last week. Across Illinois, the average price was $2.95, down 12-and-a-half cents.
GasBuddy analyst Patrick DeHaan says falling crude oil prices, and the fixing of problems at two Lake Michigan-area oil refineries (the BP refinery in Whiting, Indiana and Citgo’s refinery in the Chicago suburb of Lemont) led to lower gas prices across Illinois last week, as well as in other Great Lakes states.
“Illinois was the state with the third-largest average price drop,” said DeHaan, “behind Michigan and Indiana, both also seeing double-digit decreases.”
Indiana’s average Regular-grade gasoline price was at $2.78 early Monday, down 11.8 cents from a week ago, and continued to fall through the day. Michigan’s average gasoline prices was at $2.76/9 late Monday afternoon. DeHaan says Illinois’ average price, higher than both Indiana and Michigan, showed the lasting impact of the state’s 19-cent gasoline tax increase, which took effect July 1st.
DeHaan says crude oil prices continued to fall, thanks to a smaller than expected decline in U.S. oil inventories, and continued concerns about the strength of the U-S economy. He thinks recent tensions with Iran are not having much impact on oil prices.
“I think the latest round of what we've seen from Iran, going after several large carriers in the Strait of Hormuz is discounted to the degree that the market is expecting Iran basically who's in a corner, they're expecting some volatile behavior,” said DeHaan. “I think Iran is looking for the US return to the bargaining table and they are engaging in activities that they believe would push the U-S to do so.”
In addition, DeHaan says sanctions against Iranian oil keeps it from being a factor in the global oil market.
DeHaan says Illinois motorists could see lower gas prices in the first half of this week, possibly followed by a rise, due in part to problems at a third refinery.
“Late last week, ExxonMobil’s refinery outside Joliet suffered a large flaring event, which is usually indicative of some problems,” said DeHaan. “But that only caused wholesale gas prices to move up a few cents per gallon. So motorists in Illinois may see prices moving back up.”
But DeHaan says a bigger factor in any price increase would be price-cycling ----- when gas stations raise prices sharply, then drop them down incrementally, and repeat the cycle.
DeHaan says price-cycling is common in the Chicago suburbs, and to a lesser extent in some downstate markets, including Champaign-Urbana, Rockford and the Metro East suburbs of St. Louis.