Gas now less than a dollar at some Butler County stations, but will it last?

Gas prices were under $1 at several locations in Middletown. The price at the pump will be low for some time due to fewer driving trips because of the COVID-19 pandemic and a supply glut. The UDF store in downtown Middletown was one of a few gas stations selling gas for 99 cents a gallon. One national expert said gas prices will struggle to reach $2 a gallon this summer. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
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Gas prices were under $1 at several locations in Middletown. The price at the pump will be low for some time due to fewer driving trips because of the COVID-19 pandemic and a supply glut. The UDF store in downtown Middletown was one of a few gas stations selling gas for 99 cents a gallon. One national expert said gas prices will struggle to reach $2 a gallon this summer. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Butler County motorists can find gasoline for less than a dollar a gallon as the nation is seeing the lowest prices at the pump.

In a check of Butler County gas prices Wednesday on GasBuddy.com, the lowest price for a gallon of gas was 99 cents at several locations in Middletown.

The average price in Butler County on Wednesday was $1.46 according to AAA.

One national petroleum analyst said cheaper gas will be around for some time.

As of Monday, the national average price fell for the eighth week in a row to $1.78 a gallon. It was the first time in GasBuddy.com’s 20-year history of a gas price decline for that many weeks, according to a blog written by Patrick DeHaan, a GasBuddy petroleum analyst.

“It’s a little unpredictable given the unpredictable outcomes in the weeks ahead,” he said.

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DeHaan’s blog predicted the national average price of a gallon gas will continue to drop to about $1.49 because of the decrease in crude oil prices and storage issues A large supply and lesser demand with many motorists following stay-at-home orders are predicted to continue driving down prices.

On Tuesday, DeHaan said that gas prices will struggle in many states to reach $2 a gallon during the busy summer driving season. In addition, these price drops will hurt states, as cheaper gas means gas tax revenues may go down. He believes the COVID-19 pandemic could affect gas prices for another six to 12 months.

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“Locally, the general public will see very low prices in the market,” said Stephen Hightower, president and CEO of Hightowers Petroleum in Middletown. “Prices will continue to go down and that will benefit the consumer.”

Hightowers Petroleum is a gasoline and diesel wholesaler that serves more than 200 clients such as General Motors, Nissan, Kroger, AK Steel, Fed Ex and AT&T.

He said when the storage tanks are full, there is no place to move the product off the ships, which costs an oil company “tens of thousands of dollars a day to keep on the ship.”

“It becomes cheaper to sell it at a loss rather than having product sitting on a ship,” he said.

He thinks there will be a boost in demand once sections of the economy begin to open across the nation.

“It will be an early indicator of the market,” Hightower said. “When the economy begins to move, it will begin with gas and diesel fuel.”

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Kimberly Schwind, AAA Ohio spokeswoman, said once leisure travel is permitted, she thinks those will start as short drive trips within Ohio or the nearby region before fueling longer domestic trips this summer.

“This is uncharted territory,” she said. “We don’t know how low prices will go but we won’t see negative prices. It really depends on the situation and it also depends on how soon businesses and schools will open.”