Spring surprise: Gas prices could fall 5 to 10 cents a gallon as oil plummets

Gasoline prices are down slightly.

Motorists are about to experience a spring surprise. Gasoline prices could plunge as much as 5 to 10 cents a gallon in the short term as the price of crude oil fell last week.

The falling prices come at a time of year when gas prices typically rise as refineries undergo maintenance and switch to more expensive summer fuel blends.

Monday, Palm Beach County’s average had already dipped 2 cents a gallon to $2.49 from $2.51 a week ago, according to AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report. Florida’s average stood at $2.27 Monday, down 1 cent from a week ago.

Some stations are well below the average. Here’s the lowest price for regular as reported on GasBuddy.com  in the following cities:

Jupiter: $2.39, Circle K, 126 W. Indiantown Road

Palm Beach Gardens: $2.34, Sunoco, 2490 PGA Blvd.

North Palm Beach: $2.27, Citgo, 100 N. Federal Highway

West Palm Beach area: $2.28, Citgo, 970 S. Military Trail

Lake Worth area: $2.24, J&A, 4703 S. Military Trail

Lantana:$2.24,  Costco,1873 W. Lantana Road

Boynton Beach: $2.25, BJ’s Wholesale Club,  1540 W. Boynton Beach Blvd.

Wellington: $2.39, Marathon, 2741 State Road 7; Shell, 192 U.S. 441

“The oil market suffered a ‘mini collapse’ last week, following reports of a record build in domestic crude oil,” said AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins. “This will postpone the customary spring-time gas price spike. Prices could drop 5-10 cents int he short term, but this downward trend may be only temporary.”

“A sudden plunge in the price of oil is likely to weigh on gas prices, at least temporarily,” said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com. “With little warning or expectation, crude oil last week broke out of the rut it had well established, with crude prices falling out of a 3-month range of $51-$54 per barrel to $49.”

“Naturally, when oil prices take a beating such as they did last week, one might expect gasoline prices to move in lockstep, but due the complex relationship of oil and gasoline prices and the middleman- U.S. refineries- motorists may not see as large a decline at the pump as they may hope for- but certainly stay tuned,” DeHaan said.

DeHaan said he remains optimistic that the annual spring rally at the pump could be less severe than expected, but added that is remains difficult to know where the new path will lead oil prices in the week ahead.

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