There’s a silver lining to the bummer news that dropped, along with the stock market, about the new omicron variant on Black Friday:
Oil prices, which fell along with stock prices, failed to recover on Monday and could remain low enough to bring consumers relief at gas pumps, travel club AAA said in its weekly gas price update on Tuesday.
The price of U.S. crude oil fell 13% on Friday, closing at $68.15 a barrel — its lowest price since Sept. 9. On Monday, it settled at $69.95 and had fallen further to $67.62 by midmorning on Tuesday.
That’s a big drop compared to just a few weeks ago. Crude reached $77 a barrel on Nov. 9, and gas prices followed suit, climbing to an average $3.36 a gallon in Florida just before Thanksgiving.
The drop in oil prices, triggered by fears that the new variant will throttle economic activity around the globe over the coming months, could shave 20 to 25 cents a gallon off the current $3.34 per-gallon average price of unleaded regular, AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins said.
Jenkins warned consumers not to expect prices to drop overnight.
“Gas prices normally rise like a rocket and fall like a feather,” Jenkins said. “So it could take a couple of weeks before prices at the pump fully reflect the downturn in the futures market.”
Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for the price-comparison website http://GasBuddy.com">GasBuddy.com, said the return of travel restrictions in many nations would reduce demand for fuel and ease supply pressures that have been driving prices to levels not seen in seven years.
Of course, oil prices could stage a comeback if the threat from the omicron variant fails to materialize.
For now, the jury is still out on how the variant will affect demand for oil and gas, De Haan said.
“But so far, Americans can expect the new variant to push gas prices even lower. Beyond the next few weeks, it remains nearly impossible to predict where oil and gas prices will head, though turbulence is guaranteed.”
Examples of easing prices could already be seen in South Florida, according to real-time price data available on GasBuddy’s website.
In Broward County, motorists could find gas for $3.15 a gallon at two stations — Mobil at 6600 North State Road 7 in Coconut Creek and Chevron at 3501 Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood.
In Palm Beach County, a Chevron at 1350 Greenview Shores Blvd. in Wellington was selling at $2.99 a gallon.
And in Miami-Dade County, motorists could find gas for $3.01 a gallon at a Westar station at 3700 S. Dixie Highway in Coral Gables.
Ron Hurtibise covers business and consumer issues for the South Florida Sun Sentinel. He can be reached by phone at 954-356-4071, on Twitter @ronhurtibise or by email at mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org">email@example.com.
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