REDWOOD CITY – The price of crude oil dropped below $100 per barrel this week for the first time in several months. While it won't have an immediate impact on gas prices in the Bay Area, industry experts say it should in a few weeks.
"I think it's just a matter of time before most stations fall back under the $6 a gallon mark, on average," said Patrick de Haan, the Head of Petroleum Analysis at Gas Buddy. "I'm looking for more broad relief here over the next couple of weeks. Prices could go down $0.20 to $0.40 a gallon in the next few weeks, so long as there are no unexpected refining disruptions or major hurricanes."
de Haan explained gas prices will typically lag behind the price of oil as it fluctuates.
"When prices are going up, stations are behind the curve. They lose money consistently or they're making negligible profit until prices stop going up. That's when they finally catch up. When prices start going down, that's when they start making up for when prices went up and they weren't doing well," he told KPIX 5.
"Stations do deliver the lower prices, but it takes them time to get access to that cheaper price, to sell through their expensive fuel, and to start lowering their prices. So, stations aren't really in a hurry to lower prices because much of this year we've seen a rise in prices, and they've been on the wrong side of things for a good portion of the year," de Haan went on to say.
While de Haan believes gas prices will trend down over the next few weeks, he says it's harder to make a longer term prediction.
"For now, we could see another few weeks of declines. But, I'm a little bit worried because the volatility in prices this summer has been really off the charts. One day oil prices plummet, the next day they go up," he said. "Where we're going to be in 3-6 weeks is basically impossible to foresee yet, just because of the myriad of factors that are influencing prices right now."
According to AAA, the average price for a gallon of regular gas currently is:
$6.13 in San Francisco
$6.23 in San Jose
$6.27 in Oakland
$6.42 in Napa
$6.21 in San Rafael
$6.18 in Vallejo-Fairfield
By comparison, the average price for a gallon of regular gas a month ago was:
$6.58 in San Francisco
$6.48 in San Jose
$6.46 in Oakland
$6.58 in Napa
$6.61 in San Rafael
$6.36 in Vallejo-Fairfield
Meanwhile the average price for a gallon of regular gas a year ago was:
$4.45 in San Francisco
$4.36 in San Jose
$4.36 in Oakland
$4.48 in Napa
$4.44 in San Rafael
$4.29 in Vallejo-Fairfield
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