AAA: Gas prices at the pump are still dropping. Here’s why.

Customers fume during gas station's 99-cent deal
Posted at 12:57 PM, Apr 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-27 14:57:40-04

BOISE, Idaho — “If current trends continue, we could see Idaho pump prices dip as low as $1.75 per gallon before it’s all said and done,” according to AAA Idaho spokesman Matthew Conde.

Gas prices kept tumbling last week amid record-high stock levels and continued low demand due to COVID-19 precautions. With another eight-cent drop for the week -- the second-largest in the country behind Alaska -- the Idaho average price for regular fuel is now just seven cents higher than the national average.

“A few weeks ago, AAA predicted that Idaho’s average price could make it to $1.85 per gallon, or even lower,” said Conde, predicting prices could go as low as $1.75 per gallon.

Today, Idahoans are paying an average price of $1.84 per gallon, which is 52 cents less than a month ago, and $1.18 less than a year ago. The national average is currently at $1.77 per gallon, which is 28 cents less than a month ago, and $1.11 less than a year ago.

At $2.04, Utah is the only state in the Rockies region with an average price above $2 per gallon –- one of just a dozen states in a similar predicament. The other states in the area are well below the two-dollar-mark (Colorado is at $1.73, Montana is at $1.81, Idaho is at 1.84, and Wyoming is at $1.90)

“According to the Energy Information Administration, U.S. gasoline demand grew slightly over the week to 5.3 million barrels per day, but that’s still extremely low when compared with 9.5 million barrels per day last April. National gasoline stocks also set a new record at 263 million barrels,” Conde pointed out.

“Crude oil and gas prices still face significant downward pressure, as producers and refiners are having trouble convincing their customers to buy and store products that are still in the pipeline,” Conde explained. “Even as refineries cut back, and in some cases, shutter their operations temporarily, there just isn’t enough demand to make a dent in the available supply.”

At the end of Friday’s trading session, the West Texas Intermediate benchmark for crude oil was at $16.94 per barrel, after going negative last week for the first time since 1983. A barrel of crude is currently trading near $13 per barrel, which is $50 less than a year ago. OPEC nations and their partners recently agreed to record production cuts starting in May and June, but they are expected to have a minimal impact over the next few weeks.

“Even with negative crude oil prices and continued low demand, gas stations won’t be giving away free fuel any time soon,” Conde said. “Retailers still need to cover distribution costs and try to make up for some of the major losses they’re taking in their convenience stores. We’ll be watching closely, but as stay-home orders start to ease around the country, we could see gas prices heading in the opposite direction fairly soon.”

Here’s a sample of today’s per-gallon pump prices around the Gem State:

Boise - $1.83
Coeur d’Alene - $1.63
Franklin - $1.99
Idaho Falls - $1.74
Lewiston - $1.94
Pocatello - $1.91
Twin Falls - $1.95