Area gasoline prices are falling fast because of tumbling oil prices and offer the tantalizing prospect of retreating to $3 a gallon.
The average price for a gallon of regular is $3.27 in Fort Worth-Arlington, according to Friday's Fuel Gauge Report by auto club AAA, Oil Price Information Service and Wright Express.
That's down 3 cents from Thursday, 10 cents in the past week, 17 cents in the past month and 63 cents from this year's peak average of $3.90 in early May.
Some of the cheapest gas can be found for $3.09 to $3.15 a gallon, according to postings on the www.fortworthgasprices.com website.
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Prices below $3.20 are increasingly common.
Tom Kloza, an analyst for Oil Price Information Service of New Jersey, said Friday, "Based on what transpired in U.S. and global markets this week, you could see Texas prices in some locations drop to $3 a gallon or lower by Columbus Day," Oct. 10.Wholesale gasoline prices have dropped about 40 cents a gallon since Sept. 1 as a result of falling oil prices, which closed below $80 a barrel Friday, Kloza said.
"But I caution, and this must be stressed, that the oil markets are Sybil-like, prone to incredible mood swings from day to day," Kloza said. "In early August, we saw a similar 40-cent drop in wholesale [gasoline prices] that pointed to much lower retail prices." However, within a few days, wholesale prices rebounded by 20 to 30 cents a gallon, he said.
Clay Gilmer, vice president of fuel for Reeder Distributors of Euless, said he doesn't know when or whether retail prices might reach $3.
"You know, that's the million-dollar question," Gilmer said. "I'd love to give you an answer, because I'd love to know the answer."
Gilmer said it is especially hard to forecast prices because of volatile commodities markets. Reeder sometimes deals with price changes of 10 to 12 cents a gallon in a single day, he said. "We used to never get that," he said.
The average Texas price for regular gas is $3.36 a gallon, 9 cents higher than for the area, according to the Fuel Gauge Report. The U.S. average is $3.54.
Average Fort Worth-Arlington area prices Friday for other fuel grades were: midgrade, $3.44; premium, $3.58; and diesel, $3.71.
Despite the recent drop in prices, the area's $3.27 price for regular is still 72 cents higher than the $2.55 average a year ago, the Fuel Gauge Report said.
Jack Z. Smith,