Gas prices expected to drop -- slowly
TAMPA - Experts are calling for gas prices to climb off their rocket ride and even begin dropping, but gas stations around the Tampa Bay area aren't rushing to shave much from the cost of a gallon. The average price for a gallon of regular in the Tampa Bay area today is $3.89 a gallon, down less than a penny from Saturday, according to the AAA daily price report. Still, Tampa Bay area drivers are finding some of the cheapest gas in Florida, considering the statewide average price is $3.92 today, down a penny from Saturday. Orlando, with an average price of $3.88 a gallon, and Jacksonville, with an average price of $3.89 a gallon, are the only metropolitan areas in Florida with cheaper gas today than the Tampa Bay area.The small drop isn't reflecting what Fred Rozell, the retail pricing director at the Oil Price Information Service, and other experts say is coming, as gas supplies rise and people drive less. Rozell expects gas to drop by about 50 cents a gallon as early as June and oil analyst Andrew Lipow said prices could drop 40 cents a gallon at the least over the next few months. A drop of 40 cents, or even 50 cents a gallon could be pale comfort for drivers in Florida or the Tampa Bay area where gas would have to drop more than $1 a gallon from Sunday's level to reach the Tampa Bay area's $2.86 a gallon of a year ago. Statewide, gas averaged $2.91 a gallon in Florida a year ago. Rozell expects a slow fall in gas prices. When average gas prices fluctuate nationally, some areas are affected more than others, he said. It's even possible prices will rise at some stations in coming days even if they decline nationally. A drop in crude costs is helping push down gas prices, as the price for a barrel dropped 15 percent, helped by investors worried about rising supplies and falling gasoline demand in the United States. It was the largest weekly drop for oil in two and a half years. Some analysts predict that oil will keep falling in coming weeks — from about $97 a barrel to about $80. Many U.S. refineries also are expected to boost production after a series of unplanned shutdowns stemming from power outages and other problems. Those refineries would pump more gasoline to gas stations. And the increased supplies should push down prices.
Information from The Associated Press was included in this report.