How low can gas prices go?

(CBS News) Gas prices continue to slide, with the price of regular unleaded gas averaging $3.45 a gallon, according to AAA. That's down six cents from last week and 36 cents from last year.

The price drop can be attributed to a number of factors, among them, the price of crude, in addition to U.S. supply-and-demand, Tom Kloza explained on "CBS This Morning."

Kloza, chief oil analyst for GasBuddy.com, a website that reports fuel prices across the U.S. and Canada, said: "We're getting these efforts from the president and (Iranian President Hassan Rouhani) that could put some more Iranian crude on the market, there's more Iraqi crude on the market."

However, the U.S. is also becoming less dependent on foreign sources for fuel.

"It's basically about U.S. supply and demand," Kloza said. "Our refineries are running at the highest rate ever this time of the year."

Ben Bernanke has done a lot to set up the current conditions for low gas prices, Kloza said, calling him the "accidental architect."

"Because low interest rates have kept oil prices relatively high...there's a lot of exploration production," Kloza said. "You can guarantee a high price five years from now.On the other hand, low interest rates are leading to more people buying vehicles. Vehicle sales are as high as they've been in a generation and the new cars are getting 25 miles per gallon."

The aging U.S. population is also a factor: "(People are) driving less and turning over the car fleet faster than ever."

Another contributors to the U.S. fuel price, Kloza noted, is the use of natural gas to run refineries.

"Natural gas is a huge contributor to the refining renaissance," Kloza said. "Our price is one-third or one-fourth the price across the globe, so it's one of the reasons why we can manufacture products like gasoline and diesel much cheaper than everybody else. The point of getting people to use natural gas vehicles, that's a little bit touchier because of infrastructure."

However, using natural gas for long-haul trucking, Kloza said, will probably be seen "a lot" in "the next decade."

So how low can prices go?

Kloza forecasts prices lower than last year -- $3.21.

"I think in an awful lot of states you will be able to buy less than $3," Kloza said. "If you aggressively look, you can do about 25 cents better."

For more with Kloza on gas prices, watch the full video of his "CTM" interview above.

  • Amanda Cochran

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