Gasoline prices continue to fall across the United States, where the average price for a gallon of regular is $2.42. The prices vary considerably from state to state. In South Carolina, the average is $1.86, and in the state with the highest price, Hawaii, it is $2.90. Prices have dropped enough so that they are below $2 a gallon in nine states.
Those states are South Carolina ($1.86), Alabama ($1.90), Mississippi ($1.91), Louisiana ($1.92), New Jersey ($1.93), Texas ($1.93), Tennessee ($1.93), Virginia ($1.96) and Arkansas ($1.98), according to GasBuddy.
Proximity to refineries is one large factor in gas prices. That is among the reasons that states along or near the Gulf of Mexico, and close to the huge block of refineries south of Houston, have prices so low. Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas all fall into this category. There are very large clusters of refineries in New Jersey and South Carolina too.
Gas taxes and levies by state are nearly as important as refinery proximity. According to the American Petroleum Institute, in October, the average state plus federal tax among all states was $0.487 per gallon. However, among many of the states with prices below $2, the figure was much lower. In New Jersey it was $0.329, in South Carolina $0.352, in Mississippi $0.372, in Texas $0.384, in Louisiana $0.384, in Alabama $0.392 and in Arkansas $0.402.
How far will prices fall? According to the AAA, quite a bit:
This year’s autumn refinery maintenance season has been heavier than usual due to a busy summer driving season, which caused refineries to operate at higher rates for longer periods of time. Although the planned maintenance season is well underway, regional pump prices could remain volatile due to fluctuations in supply and demand. However, ample domestic supply is expected to keep the broader national average relatively steady as the refinery maintenance season concludes. Market fundamentals continue to suggest that the national average could fall below the $2 per gallon benchmark before the end of the year for the first time since 2009, barring any unanticipated disruptions in supply or unforeseen jumps in the price of crude oil.
By the holidays, half of the states could have gas prices below $2 per gallon.