There was a time not long ago that paying a little under $4 for a gallon of gas would seem outrageous. Lately, it feels pretty good.
The average price of a gallon of regular unleaded in North Carolina dropped a penny below $4 on Wednesday for the first time since May 5, according to AAA. Since peaking at $4.67 a gallon in mid-June, the average price of gas in the state has declined a penny or two almost every day.
Diesel remains well above $5 a gallon, at $5.25 on Wednesday, but down from a high of $5.77 statewide on June 11, according to AAA.
Nationwide, the average price for a gallon of unleaded was $4.30, off its peak of $5.02 a gallon on June 14, according to AAA.
Concerns about a potential recession are helping to bring oil prices down. West Texas Intermediate crude was selling for more than $115 a barrel earlier this year after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine disrupted world supplies, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, but has recently fallen to less than $100.
Lackluster demand for gasoline is another factor. Americans consumed 8.52 million barrels of gasoline a day last week, according to the EIA, about 775,000 fewer barrels per day than the same week last summer.
“Consumers appear to be taking the pressure off their wallets by fueling up less,” AAA spokesperson Andrew Gross said in a written statement. “And there’s reason to be cautiously optimistic that pump prices will continue to fall, particularly if the global price for oil does not spike. But the overall situation remains very volatile.”
The Biden administration also credits its decision to release a million barrels of oil a day from the country’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve in response to Russia’s invasion. Combined with coordinated releases from the stockpiles of other countries, the U.S. Treasury Department estimates that the additional oil on the market resulted in prices falling 17 to 42 cents per gallon.
Prices at the pump vary across the country and within North Carolina. Retailers are charging about $4.20 a gallon on average in Durham and Orange counties, according to AAA, while the price in neighboring Wake has fallen to about $3.95.
In a handful of counties, mostly east of Interstate 95, the average has dropped to less than $3.70, according to AAA. They include Beaufort, Craven, Pitt and Wilson counties.
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