Why are gas prices so low going into the Fourth of July weekend?

You may have seen headlines recently about falling gas prices heading into July 4th weekend.

You may have seen headlines recently about falling gas prices heading into the Fourth of July weekend.

That’s about as rare as a reporter volunteering to work on a story about gas prices. Both happened.

9NEWS reporter Noel Brennan stopped by a Denver gas station Wednesday (where else would he go?) to talk to drivers about prices at the pump.

“Well they’re higher here than they are in Arizona,” Manuel Garcia said, filling up his Chrysler van at the Conoco station at 3rd and Broadway. “I just deal with it, you know. We all have to deal with it.”

Garcia may not like paying $2.24 per gallon, but that’s the current average in Colorado, according to GasBuddy.com. In fact, that’s only three cents more than the average price per gallon in January.

As we approach the holiday weekend, GasBuddy says the national average for a regular gallon of gas will be lower than it was at the start of the year. That’s never happened in the 17 years GasBuddy has been tracking gas prices.

The cheap-gas finding website projects a nationwide average of $2.21 per gallon for the Fourth of July weekend, the lowest price on Independence Day since 2005.'

We figured we better talk to an expert about that. So, we did, and we interviewed him sitting in the driver’s seat of a car.

“Interviewing a driver in their car is the most stereotypical thing you can do as a reporter,” Darrin Duber-Smith said.

Duber-Smith is a marketing professor at Metropolitan State University. He spared a few minutes to talk gas prices between lectures on Wednesday.

“There’s a supply and demand issue,” he said. “When there’s too much supply, and demand stays the same, the price comes down.”

Duber-Smith is right.

Right now, there’s a global glut of petroleum that’s caused crude oil prices to drop. That’s led to unexpected savings at the pump at a time when most people expect to pay more. Patrick DeHann, a senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy, said gas prices in Colorado have fallen 12 cents in the past week.

“Colorado’s average price is likely to drift lower for a few more days but may inch up shortly after July 4 as oil prices have rebounded slightly in the last few days,” he said.

While some drivers have noticed the lower prices, Darrin Duber-Smith said it likely won’t affect behavior for a couple months.

“There’s always a lag,” he said. “I don’t think it’s going to have an immediate effect. Not for the Fourth of July weekend.”

In other words, few people are going to book a last-minute vacation simply because they’re saving a bit at the pump.

“But it certainly could have an effect in September,” Duber-Smith said. “If the prices stay down, you might see an actual real effect from this two months down the road.”

Colorado drivers may have seen a bigger drop in gas prices this spring had it not been for an issue with a regional refinery. The Phillips 66 refinery in Montana needed maintenance which temporarily lowered the supply of gas in the state.

© 2017 KUSA-TV


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