Gasoline prices falling despite war in the Middle East

Published: Nov. 14, 2023 at 7:55 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Despite the war between Israel and Hamas in the Middle East, gasoline prices are dropping in the United States, to the delight of drivers.

“I’m happy,” New Orleans motorist Jordan Battiste said. “It’s making it more affordable for us. It’s not hurting my pockets as much.”

Lanny Goldberg was filling up the tank of a white van.

“That’s a little relief for people who’s paying those high prices, so it’s a good thing,” Goldberg said.

And William Martin began pumping gas into a large U-Haul truck.

“It was very difficult,” Martin said of the higher summer gas prices. “It was a very difficult thing, you know, because at times you might want to travel, take a short trip to somewhere like Lafayette or somewhere. And it was kind of strenuous on the pockets at that time. But we’re thankful that these prices are dropping.”

According to the U.S. Labor Department, gas prices are down 5.3% from a year ago. AAA says the national average for regular unleaded is $3.35 a gallon.

So, what is driving gas prices down?

Professor Eric Smith of Tulane University’s Energy Institute said, “We’re producing more than we ever have in history, and it’s being produced primarily in the shale plays in West Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico. But it’s also being produced in the Gulf of Mexico.

“We have high production and we’ve got sickly economies around the world -- some of it because of wars, some of it because of other things -- but the general world economy is not in the greatest shape.”

Last week in its short-term outlook, the U.S. Energy Information Administration forecasted that U.S. gasoline consumption will decline by 1% in 2024, saying that would result in the lowest per capita gasoline consumption in two decades. Among other things, it points to an increase in remote work and improvements in fuel efficiency in the U.S. vehicle fleet.

The time of year also impacts prices at the gas pump.

“The refineries generally go through a period where they reduce production in the late summer and then they switch over to the low-emission fuel blend, particularly in California, for the winter months,” Smith said.

Some drivers now relieved that gas prices have fallen curtailed their habits when costs were higher.

“It was hard to me to put five gallons of gas in my car, at some points,” Battiste said. “When it was around that much, I was typically putting about three gallons in.”

Goldberg said, “You try to make trips and be efficient when you go out. You don’t just go out for one thing, you try to do a couple of different things when you go out.”

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