AAA: Low gas prices may not be around long in Butler County

The drop in gas prices this week in Ohio can be traced to lower crude oil prices caused by the uncertainty of the coronavirus, the deadly virus that was discovered in December in China, according to an AAA spokeswoman.

But crude oil futures rose for a second day on Thursday, boosted by potential OPEC action to counter oil demand loss from the coronavirus outbreak and by optimism that trade tensions between China and the United States were easing.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate and international-benchmark Brent crude oil futures traded higher on Thursday, but off their highs. The price action suggests there is a slightly bullish tone underpinning the markets, but that buyers are still reluctant to chase prices higher, according to media reports.

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Crude oil was selling for $51.36 per barrel on Thursday, up 60 cents.

Kimberly Schwind, public relations manager for the AAA Ohio Auto Club, said if crude oil price increase, gas prices follow.

This week local consumers saw a 74-cent range of gas prices, from $1.85 at the Speedway in Monroe to $2.59 at the Shell station on Ohio 63 in Monroe.

Gas prices in Ohio and the Cincinnati and Dayton regions are below the national average, according to AAA. The national average is $2.45, Ohio’s average is $2.33 and the Dayton and Cincinnati regions are $2.30 and $2.29, respectively.

Earlier this week, gas at the Marathon station in Oxford, ironically where two Miami students were investigated, then found to be negative for the coronavirus, was selling for $1.60 a gallon, according to social media posts.

Kevin Swank, 21, of Monroe, said he couldn’t remember when he paid less than $2 a gallon.

“This is like getting a raise at work,” he said this week while filing up at Speedway in Monroe.

He doesn’t understand why some drivers don’t compare prices, especially when the prices at nearby stations are much higher.

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“They must have more money than me,” he said.

Aaron Miller, 43, of West Chester, agreed.

“People will say, ‘It’s only 15 cents,’” he said. “But when it takes 15 gallons to fill your tank that 15 cents becomes $2.25.”

These low prices are more impressive when you consider Ohio’s gas tax was increased by 10.5 cents per gallon on July 1, 2019, after the state legislature voted to raise more money for construction, reconstruction, maintenance, and repair of public highways and bridges.

Late last year, GasBuddy released its annual Fuel Price outlook, predicting that gasoline will average $2.60 per gallon in 2020.

Schwind said from 2010 to 2014, gas prices in Ohio remained steady at $3 per gallon.

“That seemed normal,” she said.

Then when gas fell to around $2.50 a gallon, consumers got accustomed to that price.

She said when prices fall below $2 a gallon, even a few cents, it gives the consumer added confidence in the economy.

“That number one on the gas marker means a lot,” she said.

Data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) showed crude inventories rose by 3.4 million barrels during the week-ending Jan. 31, higher than forecast. Traders were looking for a 3.0 million barrel build.

China on Thursday said it would halve additional tariffs levied against 1,717 U.S. goods last year, following the signing of a Phase 1 trade deal between the two countries. This helped drive prices higher earlier in the session because it makes China’s goal to increase its U.S. purchases to $200 billion over the next two years more achievable.


$1.85: Speedway, Roden Park Drive, Monroe

$1.96: Marathon, West Spring Street, Oxford

$1.96: UDF, West State Street, Trenton

$1.99: UDF, West High Street, Oxford

$2.05: Shell, Liberty-Fairfield Road, Fairfield Twp.

$2.08: UDF, Verity Parkway, Middletown

$2.15: Speedway, Tylersville Road, West Chester Twp.

$2.15: Speedway, Cincinnati-Dayton Road, West Chester Twp.

$2.23: Marathon, West State Street, Trenton

$2.29: Marathon, High Street, Hamilton

$2.35: IGA Express, East Avenue, Monroe

$2.59: Shell, Ohio 63, Monroe

SOURCES: GasBuddy and Journal-News reporters


$2.45: National average

$2.33: State average

$2.30: Dayton region average

$2.29: Cincinnati region average


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