Nation sees lowest summer gas prices since 2004

Ohio gas nearly 50 cents cheaper per gallon than last year.

Ohio is one of three states to see the average price of gas increase in the past week, along with Michigan and Indiana, according to AAA motor club. Regular, unleaded gas in Ohio currently costs an average of $2.12 per gallon, up one cent from last week.

Meanwhile, the average U.S. gallon costs $2.18, which is four cents cheaper than last week.

The Great Lakes region generally lags behind in gas price reduction because of its lack of proximity to oil refineries, said Baron Lukas, oil expert and CEO of EnviroLogic Solutions.

Both Ohio and the nation have experienced a substantial drop in gas prices over the past year, however.

Ohio’s average gallon is 34 cents cheaper than last month’s and 48 cents cheaper than last year’s. Gas costs $2.21 per gallon in the Dayton-Springfield area, which is down 30 cents from last month and 47 cents from last year.

National gas prices have dropped 14 cents in the past month and 57 cents in the past year. At $2.18 per gallon, this is the lowest average national cost during summer months since 2004.

AAA believes the price drop is due in large part to the increasing amount of crude oil in the U.S. and the simple economics of supply and demand.

“U.S. crude oil supplies are about 13 percent higher than a year ago, while gasoline stocks have increased to 240 million barrels as refineries produce significant quantities of fuel,” Cindy Antrican, AAA public affairs manager, said. “The current situation in the U.S., with the abundance of crude oil supplies, answers the basic economics equation of the laws of supply and demand.”

This is the highest-ever mark for gasoline supplies during the month of July, according to Department of Energy records.

This drop in gas prices has likely led to Ohio’s recent tourism boom, Tamara Brown of TourismOhio said. The state tourism office said visitor spending in Ohio has increased 27 percent in the past five years, and there were approximately seven million more visitors last year than there were the year prior.

“Lower gas prices are huge for tourists,” Brown said. “Most of Ohio’s visitors come from 300-500 miles away.”

Brown believes events like the Republican National Convention have also helped drive visitors to the buckeye state.

“The whole tourism industry is doing incredible business right now. The entrepreneurial spirit that the people have right now is fantastic,” Brown said.

U.S. drivers have saved approximately $20 billion on gas so far this year, and the tourism industry is reaping the benefits, Antrican said.

“This year people are traveling with an enthusiasm we haven’t seen in quite a while. We’re also seeing travelers splurge a little,” Antrican said. “When gas was more expensive people tended to economize, perhaps choosing a less expensive fast food restaurant for meals.”

Lukas believes that gas prices will likely stay low throughout the summer, but will rise again towards the end of the year and the start of 2017. However, this estimation discounts external factors such as disruptions in supply, stronger than expected economic growth or geopolitical tensions overseas, which could bump prices sooner.

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