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Gas prices fall to lowest level since Nov. 2016 in West Michigan

WEST MICHIGAN  -- The average price of gasoline has fallen to its lowest level since November 2016 in parts of West Michigan.

So, Patrick DeHaan - head of Petroleum Analysis for GasBuddy.com - says it might be a good idea to fill your vehicle's tank up at the pump now, "because the 10 percent jump in oil prices (Wednesday) may prompt the end of such prices in the days ahead."

The average price at the pump is about 50 cents lower than at this time a year ago, and much less than the average $3.19 per-gallon peak in May 2018.

Patrick DeHaan/GasBuddy.com

DeHaan noted the per-gallon price of gas at the Admiral station in Zeeland had plunged to $1.71, and as low as $1.93 per gallon at a gas station in Caledonia on Wednesday.

The pre-Christmas plummet in the price of oil saw prices drop to $42-per-barrel for West Texas Intermediate crude.

Michigan and some other markets across the United States are seeing such low demand that refineries have been discounting gasoline in order to push the volume of product through. DeHaan tells FOX 17 it's "almost like post-Christmas clearance prices on gasoline."

Economic jitters helped drive oil prices down - from $76 a barrel in October to $42 a barrel before Christmas. But DeHaan says things could change rapidly. On Wednesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average spiked upward more than 1,000 points (1,086.25) - the biggest point gain in history, right after recording its worst Christmas Eve on record. Oil prices jumped up nearly 10 percent on Wednesday, or $4 per barrel.

"So while we enjoy these low prices, we continued to see economic concerns prior to today that had fueled the decline in the price at the pump. Most notably, I'd say, due to worries over trade tensions with China, a slowing U.S. economy, and high oil production at a time of year when gasoline demand and oil demand is a bit lower."

DeHaan advises motorists to keep an eye on the economy and watch for any news coming from the G-20 Summit, such as a possible trade accord between the United States and China.

"If there is a broad trade agreement, I think that certainly could fuel a continued rise or recovery in the Dow Jones and the economy. So really right now, oil prices are very much connected to the economy. And I'd say a good barometer for the economy would be the Dow Jones average."

Meanwhile, enjoy the lower cost of gasoline - while it lasts.

"It's truly shocking to see such low prices," says DeHaan.


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