Consumers can expect some relief at the pump soon, AAA experts say, as they are predicting prices could drop up to 10 cents in the coming weeks.
Gas prices have hovered around $2.15 a gallon in the Tampa Bay area for the past week or so, but an unlikely downward trend in prices is expected to continue through the busy spring break travel season, according to a press release.
The drop in prices is attributed to the falling price of oil, which had remained steady all year up until last week.
"The oil market suffered a 'mini collapse' last week, following reports of a record buildup in domestic crude oil," said Mark Jenkins, a spokesman with AAA the Auto Club Group, in a statement. "This will postpone the customary spring-time gas price spike. Prices could drop 5-10 cents in the short term, but this downward trend may only be temporary."
The price of oil had averaged nearly $53 per barrel for most of this year. Prices initially rose to that level on Nov. 30 when OPEC agreed to cut production by nearly 1.2 million barrels per day in an effort to reduce the global oversupply of oil. Friday's price per barrel hovered at $48.49, the lowest since Nov. 29.
Demand for oil has been sluggish so far this year, AAA said. The overall gasoline supply is down 2.6 percent. This would normally push prices at the pump to increase, but the supply is not enough to outweigh the downward pressure from falling oil prices, experts say.
The average price for a gallon of unleaded gasoline in Tampa Bay on Monday was $2.15, while the average for the state was $2.27, according to AAA. That's down a penny from last week. A year ago, the average price was $1.84 per gallon in Tampa Bay.
Contact Justine Griffin at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8467. Follow @SunBizGriffin.