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COVID-19 and the ongoing crude oil price war could lower prices to $1.75 a gallon in April
By: Ragina C. Ali, AAA Mid-Atlantic
TOWSON, MD (Tuesday, March 31, 2020) –– The national average for a gallon of regular gasoline dropped below $2 per gallon today for the first time in four years. Today’s national gas price average is $1.99. In Maryland, the average is $2.02, down more than 63 cents since last year. AAA expects gas prices to push cheaper, with the national price average hitting $1.75 or less in April.
The decline is due to COVID-19’s chilling effect on the global economy and the crude oil price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia. Crude has plummeted to $20 per barrel – a closing price not seen since 2002. For the last 52 weeks, crude oil (West Texas Intermediate) has averaged $56 per barrel with the national pump price average at $2.63.
“AAA expects gas prices to keep dropping as cheap crude combines with the realities of people staying home and less demand for gas,” said Ragina C. Ali, Manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Today, motorists can find gas for $1.99 or less at 68 percent of gas stations in the country.”
CURRENT AND PAST GAS PRICE AVERAGES
Regular Unleaded Gasoline
While demand is diminishing, COVID-19 is not impacting the U.S. gasoline supply. The U.S. has an unusual amount of winter-blend gasoline still available for this time of year. This caused the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to extend the sale of winter-blend past the May 1 deadline to May 20. The agency said they would continue to monitor and may extend the waiver again.
“The EPA’s extension of the winter-blend gasoline waiver will contribute to sustained lower prices, especially as U.S. gasoline demand readings look more like winter-driving season than spring,” added Ali.
AAA forecasts that until crude oil prices and gasoline demand increase, cheaper gas prices are here for the foreseeable future.
For those motorists who are not driving, AAA offers these car care tips for longer-than-expected parked vehicles:
- Battery Boost. If possible, use a Battery Tender or other maintenance-type battery charger to keep the battery at a full state of charge and prevent deterioration. The Battery Tender should remain connected to the stored vehicle.
- Fuel Stabilizer. If gas is going to sit in the vehicle’s tank for more than a few months, particularly gasoline that contains ethanol, AAA recommends using a treatment designed for fuel stabilization such as STA-BIL®. Anyone can do this, and it is as simple as fueling up a vehicle. Fill the gas tank to help minimize condensation and drive the car for five to ten miles to ensure that the stabilized fuel circulates throughout the fuel system.
- Tire Pressure. Add 10 psi of pressure to each tire to help prevent flat spots from forming on the tires. This occurs when the area of the tire touching the ground becomes rigid due to sitting in one position for an extended period. You can also move the vehicle periodically.
- Windshield Wiper Placement. Prop up the wiper arms so the blades are off the windshield and won’t get stuck to the glass.
- No Parking Brake. Don’t use the parking brake when storing the vehicle. The brake could become frozen, and the brake pads could rust to the rotors, or brake shoes could distort the drums. With an automatic transmission, simply place the vehicle in park. If the car has a manual transmission, put it in first or reverse gear and use wheel chocks to help hold the vehicle in place.