Gas prices should decline by as much as 10 cents a gallon this week as fuel inventories return to normal following recent hurricanes, an industry experts said today.
But even with a dip in prices over the past couple of weeks and projections of further declines this week, the average price of regular gas in Chattanooga is still up 44.2 cents per gallon from a month ago before Hurricanes Harvey and Irma struck Texas and Florida, according to GasBuddy's daily survey of 170 gas outlets in Chattanooga.
Gas prices in Chattanooga on Sunday averaged $2.49 a gallon, down 3.9 cents per gallon from a week earlier and 6.7 cents cheaper than two weeks ago in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Harvey shutting off many refineries and some pipelines.
Gas prices in Chattanooga average 6 cents per gallon less than the U.S. average, but local fuel prices have tended to rise more than the country as a whole since June when Chattanooga and Cleveland, Tenn., gas prices were more than 30 cents per gallon below the national average and were among the cheapest cities in American for fuel. Local gas prices jumped with a couple of weeks of their biggest amount in six years after Hurricane Harvey shut down many refineries and forced the Colonial Pipelines to temporarily cease deliveries in the Southeast.
Oil prices on the international markets rose to a 7-week high last week and local fuel gas stations are still feeling the effects of the recent storms. But Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy, said gas prices this fall should continue to decline as refineries replenish inventories and deliveries get back to normal across the Southeast.
"While oil prices have gained momentum in the last few weeks, it will not be enough to stymie the continued decline at gas pumps, which will bring the national average down another 5-10 cents in the week ahead." DeHaan said. "Nationwide, many motorists have asked why all gas prices haven't come back down to pre-Harvey levels, and while the answer is complex, in short, it will take weeks or months to see gasoline inventories recover fully, but prices will continue to slowly drift lower as inventories slowly improve."
Including the change in gas prices in Chattanooga during the past week, prices Sunday were 30.3 cents per gallon higher than the same day one year ago and 56 cents per gallon more than two years ago. But prices at the pump are still $1.08 per gallon less than at this time of of the year in 2012 when regular gas sold for $$3.57 a gallon in Chattanooga.
According to GasBuddy.com, gas is selling the cheapest today at USA Fuels on 23rd Street, where regular gas is priced at $2.36 per gallon.