Coronavirus puts downward pressure on gas prices as Chinese motorists stay home

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Drivers enjoyed yet another week of lower prices at the pump.

In one month, gas prices have dropped in Delaware by 25 cents, Wilmington-based AAA Mid-Atlantic reported. Gas prices in Delaware are now at least five cents a gallon below the figure from a year ago.

Here are Monday prices:

  • Pennsylvania gas average at $2.63 today, unchanged overnight and down 3 cents in the last week.  
  • New Jersey gas average at $2.49 today, down a penny overnight and down 5 cents in the last week.
  • Delaware gas average at $2.17 today, unchanged overnight and down 4 cents in the last week.  
  • Maryland gas average at $2.32 today, unchanged overnight and down 6 cents in the last week.
  • Philadelphia (5-county) area gas average at $2.60 today, down a penny overnight and down 5 cents in the last week.  
  • S. Jersey gas average at $2.38 today, down a penny overnight and down 5 cents in the last week.  
  • National gas average at $2.43 today, unchanged overnight and down 4 cents in the last week.  

New data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) indicated that a high level of gasoline stocks and low demand continue to put pressure on prices.

Lower crude oil prices are also contributing to the savings as the market continues to react to the spread of the coronavirus.

At the close of NYMEX trading Friday, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil settled at $50.32 per barrel, $1.24 lower than last Friday’s close. Crude closed at a 13-month low of $49.61 on Tuesday, highlighting the effect the rapidly-spreading coronavirus is having on the oil market.

The coronavirus is cutting demand for fuel in China, the world’s largest oil importer. The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russia discussed oil production cuts this week but the countries can’t agree on a plan yet. Extending the production cuts is seen as one way to cushion the blow of dropping crude prices.

“Cheaper crude prices and healthy oil and gasoline stock levels mean motorists can expect prices to continue to decline this month,” said Jana L. Tidwell, manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “However, there may be some volatility with crude oil prices, as many market analysts will be watching the economic impact of the coronavirus and whether OPEC will consider further oil production cuts.”

Oil prices have fallen by more than $10 a barrel (or nearly 20 percent) since the start of 2020. 

To find gas prices in your neighborhood, log on to AAA’s Fuel Price Finder (http://www.AAA.com/fuelfinder) locates the lowest fuel price in your area. 

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