Gasoline prices were expected to continue to decline for the rest of this week, a petroleum analyst said, but Ohioans and others in the Great Lakes region should always expect price spikes at any time.
The average retail gasoline prices in Ohio have fallen by 10.3 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.12 per gallon as of Monday, GasBuddy.com senior petroleum analyst Gregg Laskoski said. The national average fell 1.4 cents in the past week to $3.24 per gallon.
“Everything looks like it is working well right now with refinery output being pretty healthy so I would expect to see these prices continue to decline, just a nominal decline this week,” Laskowski said after evaluating strong numbers from the Department of Energy on weekly crude oil and gasoline inventories. “I am cautious in what I am saying here because I know you are accustomed to seeing price spikes — after prices come down for a certain period it is not uncommon for Ohio and the Great Lakes region to see significant spikes in a single day.”
On Monday, the lowest price in Lima was $2.91 per gallon at Meijer on Elida Road and the highest price was $3.29 at Fast Gas on St. Johns Road. The average price was $2.97.
The lowest price in the state was $2.85 at Galion.
Laskowski explained this phenonemon as being inherent only to the Great Lakes region and it is known as retail price cycling where large gasoline retailers “will spike the price when they think it is necessary.” He said this pricing scheme is unlike any other region in the country in regard to gasoline price fluctuations.
The regional analyst for the Great Lakes area for GasBuddy.com is Patrick Dehaan, who was not available for comment.
For the remainder of December, Laskowski said motorists “should see incremental decreases for at least the next couple of weeks.”
This is barring any major catastrophes at major refineries in the United States before the end of the month.
“Once we get into the new year, we are going to be in a period where refineries will be looking to deplete their inventories of winter blend gasoline because they know they have to get started on producing the summer blend gasoline,” Laskowski said. “Before they ever start that process they typically schedule their annual maintenance in January or February or even early March.”
With the nation’s 134 refineries going through this process at the same time causes a tight supply in the spring and higher gasoline prices.