The average price for a gallon of gas in Texas has dropped below $2 for the first time in almost six years, with Fort Worth, Arlington and Dallas motorists paying the least, at $1.86 a gallon.
The statewide average hit $1.95 a gallon the same week that the price of oil dropped below $50 a barrel for the first time since 2009, according to the AAA Texas Fuel Gauge report.
The price for regular unleaded gasoline is the lowest since May 2009 — 7 cents less than a week ago and $1.17 less than a year ago — the travel and insurance agency reported.
Of the major metropolitan areas surveyed, Corpus Christi motorists are paying the most, at $2.02 a gallon. Drivers in Texas are paying 23 cents less per gallon than the national average of $2.18, AAA said.
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FortWorthGasPrices.com was reporting an average of $1.94 statewide and $1.85 in Fort Worth and Arlington late Thursday, with 14 stations selling gas for $1.59 to $1.69. One station in North Richland Hills and two in Hurst were at $1.59.
“Barring any significant fluctuations in the price of crude oil, the national average price at the pump is likely to remain below $3 per gallon in 2015,” Doug Shupe of AAA Texas/New Mexico said in a statement.
On the New York Mercantile Exchange, oil futures ended the day slightly higher, gaining 14 cents to close at $48.79 a barrel. In June, benchmark U.S. oil traded for $107.
Ken Morgan, director of TCU’s Energy Institute, predicted low gas prices throughout 2015. “I think most people are predicting a great bargain at the pump for consumers,” he said.
The downside is that producers are now “living with the reality that they are getting oil to market at cheaper prices than they can produce it, and that is unsustainable for those companies.”
Robert Dye, chief economist at Comerica Bank in Dallas, released a Texas economic activity index report Thursday, saying the state’s economy expanded at a “robust rate” in the last quarter of 2014 but predicting that lower oil prices could be a “game changer” in the coming year.
“With WTI [West Texas Intermediate] now down to less than $50 a barrel, we are seeing a significant slowdown in oil field activity and this will be a drag on Texas economic activity in 2015,” Dye said.
Karr Ingham, an Amarillo-based petroleum economist for the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers, told the Star-Telegram this week that the state may lose up to 30,000 oil and gas exploration and production jobs if the price remains too low.
Max B. Baker, 817-390-7714