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Gasoline prices expected to drop leading into holiday season

Gas prices around the region are expected to drop slightly leading into the holidays. David Kennard|The Robesonian
Gas prices around the region are expected to drop slightly leading into the holidays. David Kennard|The Robesonian

Two major price watchers are pointing to falling gas prices during the holiday season as news reports focus on a resurgence of COVID-19 cases.

“Consumers may be catching a break at the pump right now, but it’s not for a very good reason,” said Andrew Gross, AAA spokesperson. “A potential COVID-19 induced economic slowdown hurts everyone and could prompt OPEC to slash production if oil prices drop too low.”

Also helping to ease upward pricing pressure was the decision by OPEC and its oil-producing allies not to cut production, according to a AAA report. The national average for a gallon of gas dipped 4 cents on the week to $3.35. For consumers, gasoline prices were last this low on Oct. 20.

In Robeson County during the last week regular gas prices hovered around the $3 per gallon range, which was lower than both the state average ($3.13) and the National Average ($3.33).

The AAA report showed details from a Dec. 2 analysis looking at OPEC and its allies, a group referred to as OPEC+. In that report OPEC announced it would “stick to its plan, for now, to raise production by 400,000 b/d in January.”

AAA officials commenting on the OPEC statement said the move was likely in response “to the Biden Administration’s call to increase supply to tame high fuel prices.”

At $3 per gallon in Lumberton, a 15-gallon tank of gas would cost $45.

Across the U.S., gas prices differed by wide margins. California again topped the list of most expensive gallon of gas ($4.68); Oklahoma had the cheapest gallon of gas ($2.91).

“Drivers in 2021 are facing the highest holiday gas prices in seven years, and it’s no wonder the added stress of paying for gas on top of holiday travel gets transferred to the road,” Thursday’s report stated.

“With the holiday season upon us and with the highest gas prices seasonally in over a half decade, we’re seeing a lot of frustration on the road as traffic soars as the nation recovers from COVID, and stresses are manifesting in aggressive behavior behind the wheel,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy. “Aggressive driving isn’t just unsafe, it costs Americans billions of dollars per year. Practicing better habits on the road and paying attention to fuel efficiency can improve drivers’ gas mileage up to 25%, driving down their fuel expenses.”

According to the GasBuddy ranking, with the national average price of gas now at $3.35/gal, more than $1 over the 2020 holiday season, consumers’ driving habits in some cities are over 30% more aggressive during the holidays compared to the rest of the year.