Report: Gas could slip below $2 by Christmas

Gas price service GasBuddy projects gasoline prices could fall below $2 a gallon in many states, including South Carolina, by Christmas.

Gasoline prices could slip below $2 a gallon in many states, including South Carolina, by Christmas, according to a new outlook.

Petroleum market watchers at GasBuddy said Friday that regional, national and global supply-and-demand factors continue to place more downward pressure on crude oil prices. They expect that trend to continue well into 2016.

“As motorists wrap up their summer vacation road trips, demand for gasoline slips in autumn and winter,” said Will Speer, a senior analyst with GasBuddy. “At the same time, refining margins are strong and with the switch to cheaper winter grade gasoline in the coming months, ample supply of discounted gasoline will be available to motorists. It’s the perfect recipe for savings at the pump till the end of the year.”

Last year, the national average for a gallon of gas shed more than $1.27 from Aug. 1 through Dec. 31, when the U.S. average was $2.24, said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.

“This year, if we see just half of that decline, it will bring us below $2 per gallon,” he said.

As many as 20 states could have average gas prices below $2 per gallon, GasBuddy projects.

In South Carolina, the average price Friday was $2.29 a gallon, down 6 cents from a week ago and nearly $1 from a year ago, according to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report.

Columbia reported the cheapest gas in the state at an average $2.25 a gallon. Charleston and North Charleston had the highest average prices in South Carolina at $2.31.

The U.S. average was $2.67 a gallon Friday.

Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.