Tulsa unleaded gas dips below $3 mark
BY ROD WALTON World Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
11/20/12 at 3:48 AM
The average price of regular unleaded in Tulsa dropped below $3 for the first time since late 2011, automobile and travel service AAA reported Monday.
AAA Oklahoma spokesman Chuck Mai put the average at $2.98, the cheapest since $2.95 charged on Dec. 28, 2011. Oklahoma also held the third-lowest average gasoline price among states, behind Missouri and South Carolina.
"We really expect to see the price continue to decline over the next month and half," Mai said. "We do have some room to fall."
Some stations were selling self-serve regular as low as $2.85 earlier in the day, but others, including several QuikTrips, upped their price to $2.99 by Monday afternoon, according to observed prices. QuikTrip sells gasoline blended with up to 10 percent ethanol, which is usually cheaper to buy than unblended fuels.
The sub-$3 joyride may be short-lived in the short term due to worries about the Israeli conflict in the Gaza Strip. Benchmark U.S. crude settled up $2.36 to close at $89.28 per barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Mideast fears previously were replaced by worries about demand destruction as the U.S. fiscal cliff loomed. Tulsa gasoline prices have fallen more than 70 cents per gallon in less than three months.
"Well, the Mideast is certainly a wild card, but it is very, very difficult for gasoline prices to show any relative strength versus crude from Thanksgiving through, say, Valentine's Day," Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for the Oil Price Information Service, said in an emailed response to questions from the Tulsa World.
The small scope of the day's crude-oil price hike, given the uncertainties over a potential Israeli-Palestinian conflict, "suggests that traders, investors and oil companies are more concerned about demand destruction as opposed to supply disruptions," Kloza added.
Tulsa's average price was low even compared to elsewhere in Oklahoma. The Oklahoma City average was closer to $3.10 as of early Monday, according to www.fuelgaugereport.aaa.com.
The national average hovered around $3.40 for the least expensive, self-serve unleaded. Oklahoma and Tulsa typically lay near the bottom of gas prices nationally due to three factors: a relatively high number of refineries and pipelines, stiff competition among convenience stores and a low state fuel tax rate, the AAA Oklahoma spokesman said.
"There's proximity to supply," Mai said. "We have such a high level of gasoline stations virtually every mile in every city."
Finally, "The gasoline tax in the state of Oklahoma is 17 cents per gallon."
California's fuel tax including federal and state rates, for example, is nearly 70 cents per gallon, 49 cents of that marked for state coffers. Oklahoma's combined federal and state tax is 35.4 cents per gallon of gasoline.
The tax rate is three cents higher for diesel fuel, according to reports. Overall, AAA reported Tulsa's average diesel fuel cost at just above $3.60 per gallon.
Tulsa gasoline price*
Dollars per gallon
One week ago: $3.09
Month ago: $3.28
Six months ago: $3.34
Year ago: $3.14
Record high: $3.93**
*AAA Tulsa average for self-serve regular unleaded
**On July 18, 2008
Sources: AAA-Oklahoma, Tulsa World staff
Original Print Headline: Tulsa gasoline price dips below $3 mark
Rod Walton 918-581-8457