SALT LAKE CITY — As the summer travel season winds down, gas prices have fallen well below average The $5 per gallon peak Utah residents saw just a few weeks ago. But now Utahns face inconsistencies in the prices they pay at the pump.
CHEAP GAS: Here you will find the lowest gas prices in Utah
It has been a year of ups and downs at petrol stations. Averages since January in the state were as low as $3.30 and as high as $5.27, causing confusion among drivers and their wallets.
“Yes, it can be confusing for drivers, especially all of us who see the national average going down, as it is the national average for gas continues to go down,”[ads1]; said AAA spokesperson John Treanor.
The average price of gas in Utah is $4.28 per gallon, but the highs and lows vary widely. A station in Salina posts a rate of just $3.65, while down in St. George the highest rate is $4.75.
Even when you’re driving down the street, the price of gas can be very different. So what is the reason for the inconsistency?
“The differences between the counties in Utah can be said to be distribution and marketing,” explained Tom Holst, energy analyst at the Kim C. Gardner Polict Institute.
What Holst means by distribution and marketing are things like promotion of brand-specific additives or marketing of the station itself. Although it is a smaller part of the cost of gas, he believes it is the fastest to cause fluctuations, especially at smaller stations
“Individual station owners have the higher flexibility,” he said.
And while Utah produces much of its own gasoline, production is reduced to the Gulf states.
“Our western states that get some or most or all of their gasoline from California, we’re dealing with another problem right now, and that’s tight supply in California,” Treanor said. “It’s seasonal for refinery turnover, but there’s also unscheduled maintenance going on right now. Demand is outstripping supply, which means our prices will either stay stagnant as they are in Utah or go up.”
But that has not stopped the summer trips according to AAA, says Treanor.
“We’ve had a robust travel season over the summer, which may be surprising given the record high gas prices.”
Since all Utah drivers are affected by gas prices, what does the future hold?
The trend nationally is still down, with the release of US oil reserves and purchasing trends in the world that are changing. That will eventually force Utah prices down, but the truth is, this year has been unpredictable.
“If we had a crystal ball and could see where the gas was going, we’d be in a different business,” Treanor said.