The Bradley/Sinclair gasoline station in Silverthorne is well known for consistently advertising the lowest prices for unleaded fuel in Summit County.
On Thanksgiving Day local residents and holiday travelers may have been pleasantly surprised to see the advertised price for regular unleaded gasoline at Sinclair was under $3 per gallon for the first time in recent memory.
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, an independent organization based in Washington, D.C. that monitors costs across the energy sector, the national average price of gasoline of $3.29 per gallon is lower than three months ago, 14 cents less than a year ago and the lowest heading into a Thanksgiving holiday since 2010.
Traditionally, the Thanksgiving holiday accounts for the most heavily traveled part of the year in the United States, the Energy Information Administration reported Thursday. AAA estimates that during this 2013 Thanksgiving holiday weekend — Nov. 27 through Dec. 1 — more than 38 million people in the United States will travel more than 50 miles from home by automobile.
Although gasoline prices vary by region and reflect differences in gasoline blends, taxes and unique regional characteristics, the average price of gasoline has been dropping steadily for much of the year in Colorado and the rest of the nation.
In late February, the peak of 2013, the national average price for a gallon of gasoline was $3.74, up 45 cents compared to Thursday’s average. In Colorado, June marked the 2013 high with a state average of $3.83 per gallon. The state average as of Thursday was $3.10.
Silverthorne Sinclair’s price of $2.99 per gallon is well below the state average, but still about a dime higher than gas prices on the Front Range, according to advertised prices on www.gasbuddy.com.
Lower costs of crude oil are the major reason that gasoline prices are down in recent months, the Energy Information Administration reported. Between Sept. 3 and Nov. 25 spot prices for Brent crude oil dropped by $4.66 per barrel. West Texas Intermediate crude oil, which has a much smaller role in driving gasoline prices, fell by $14.81 per barrel over the same period.
The decline in crude oil prices was partly driven by lower demand for crude oil due to seasonal refinery maintenance, the Energy Information Administration stated. The organization’s Short-Term Energy Outlook forecasts Brent and West Texas Intermediate prices to decline further to $105 and less than $94 per barrel, respectively, in December, and down to $101 and $93 by the end of 2014.
According to its November forecast, the Energy Information Administration expects the U.S. average retail price of regular gasoline to continue to drop by about another nickel to $3.24 per gallon in fourth-quarter of 2013. The average price will begin to rise slightly to $3.33 per gallon in first-quarter of 2014.
Despite the slight increase, the Energy Information Administration predicts the national average price of gasoline by the end of 2014 to be $3.39 per gallon, down from 2013 end of year forecasts of $3.50 per gallon.