By Jim Turner, The News Service of Florida
TALLAHASSEE — Gas prices in Florida continue to slacken amid global jitters over the demand for oil and an increase in output from U.S. oil refineries.
According to data posted by the auto club AAA on Monday, the average gallon of gas in Florida was selling for $3.27 — the lowest since the price was at $3.22 a gallon on Oct. 6, when the state’s month-long gas tax “holiday” began.
The tax break, which lifted 25.3 cents per gallon on fuel, ended Oct. 31.
“Florida gas prices have plunged 30 cents in the past three weeks, due to low oil prices and strong gasoline supplies,” AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins said in a press release on Monday. “The downward momentum should continue this week. Unless fundamentals change, the state average could drift below $3.20 per gallon by next weekend.”
The highest average continues to be in the West Palm Beach market, at $3.50 per gallon on Sunday. Other highs are in Gainesville, at $3.45 per gallon; Naples, at $3.41 per gallon; and Miami, at $3.36.
The lowest averages remain in Northwest Florida, with the Pensacola region at $3.01 a gallon and Panama City at $3.02.
Orlando, meanwhile, is at $3.23 a gallon, with Tampa at $3.26 and Jacksonville at $3.27.
The state average, which was $3.30 a gallon a year ago, has been on a slow decline for 25 consecutive days, a day shorter than the length of time the national average has dropped.
The national mark stood at $3.40 a gallon on Monday.
Also, AAA noted that while the U.S. price of crude oil has increased 5 percent over the past week, the cost is 15 percent lower than it was three weeks ago.
The decline is attributed in part to an increase in output from U.S. oil refineries.
AAA credited COVID-19 lockdowns in China, which have resulted in scaled-back consumption, for keeping down global pressure on oil prices.
Another factor is that this year’s Atlantic hurricane season, which ended Nov. 30, had little impact on oil refineries in the Gulf of Mexico.
“Hurricane season 2022 is over. Thankfully, it was quite limited in terms of its impact on oil and refining operations, we could ill afford any downtime, and thankfully we escaped without much at all,” tweeted Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis with the fuel-savings app GasBuddy.
De Haan, who tweeted last week he hoped the national average could dip under $3 a gallon around Christmas, noted Sunday that 11 states have average gas prices below $3.
And while the highest prices remain along the Pacific Coast, the region has experienced the largest drop in prices over the past few weeks.