Survey: Gasoline prices continue to fall, could start creeping up soon

Gasoline prices nationally averaged $2.02 a gallon as of Sunday, according to GasBuddy.

Gasoline prices continue to fall, but may begin to creep up in February.

Fuel price gauger GasBuddy said the plunge in oil prices should begin to bottom out soon as refineries slow production to switch to cleaner-burning summer fuel.

The national average for a gallon of unleaded regular gasoline fell last week to $2.02, according to gasoline price website GasBuddy.com.

That should fall to a national average of $1.99 this seek, GasBuddy said.

“But motorists shouldn’t expect it to last very long,” said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst with GasBuddy. “Refineries have been processing less crude oil and thus producing less gasoline, which will contribute to a soft bottoming out of the national average before a small recovery back in the very low $2’s.”

The year overall will continue to offer far lower gasoline prices than last year, but the seasonal shift will cause prices to rise about 35 cents a gallon by late spring, DeHaan said.

“Last year’s lift began the second week of February and saw the upward trend last until the beginning of May,” he said.

In South Carolina, the average retail gasoline price fell 2.1 cents per gallon during the past week to $1.85 on Sunday, according to GasBuddy’s daily survey of more than 3,000 gas outlets in the Palmetto State.

The price of gas in South Carolina is now $1.23 cents lower than this time last year and 27.5 cents per gallon lower than a month ago.

Missouri has the lowest price in the country at $1.79 a gallon while Hawaii reports the highest rate of $3.27.

The Upstate continues to post the lowest gasoline price in South Carolina at $1.82 per gallon, according to AAA automotive service. Myrtle Beach has the highest price at $1.92.

The price in the Charleston area averaged $1.85 on Monday.

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