Party at the pumps like it’s 1999

If you had told people back in July, when gasoline prices topped $4 a gallon, that they would be able to buy gas in Grand Junction a few months later for less than $2 a gallon, they might very well have suggested you were delusional.

But here we are, at the end of October, and a neighborhood gas war caused prices to plummet — at least temporarily — to as low as $1.71 per gallon. In 1999, gasoline prices in the United States ranged from just over $1 a gallon to about $1.45 per gallon.

Even without the local price war, gasoline prices across the country and worldwide have fallen faster than any time in history. And experts with the Oil Price Information Service say they could drop another 15 cents to 20 cents.

Even threats by OPEC to cut back on crude oil production have had little impact on the market so far, largely because demand has dropped far faster than production.

Don’t expect the low prices will continue indefinitely, however. Demand will rise with lower prices, and already there is talk of some refineries cutting back on production because gasoline prices are now so low that it is not as profitable to refine it.

Still, this fall’s rapid decline in gasoline prices has been one of the few pleasant surprises in otherwise gloomy economic news.


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