Central Valley

Prices are still falling at Valley gas pumps. Here’s where the lowest fuel prices are

Gasoline prices in Fresno and the Valley are continuing to fall since reaching a sticker-shocking peak several months ago.

The average price on Monday for regular unleaded gasoline in the Fresno area was $3.60 per gallon, according to AAA Gas Prices. That’s down by about a nickel since last week, and about 13 cents lower than a month ago. It’s also 48 cents less per gallon than in early May, when refinery shutdowns for maintenance sent prices soaring to $4.08.

Pump prices vary from one station to another in various markets; the figures reported by AAA represent an average across all stations.

Besides being lower than a week ago and a month ago, Fresno’s average price is also lower – but just barely – than prices at this same point last year. On Aug. 12, 2018, AAA reported the average for regular unleaded at $3.63 per gallon.

GasBuddy.com, a mobile app and website that tracks retail fuel prices at stations across the country based on real-time reports from customers, showed that the lowest cash prices for regular unleaded gasoline in the Fresno area on Monday were $3.15 per gallon at several locations: Costco membership stores on North Abby Street in north Fresno and the store in Clovis, and a 76 station off Herndon Avenue and Highway 99 in northwest Fresno.

Costco in Hanford also had regular unleaded gasoline priced at $3.15 per gallon, GasBuddy users reported, while Visalia’s Costco had the price at $3.09. A Fastrip convenience store in Tulare was selling gasoline for $3.01 per gallon.

The lowest prices in the Valley reported by GasBuddy users on Monday, however, were in and around Lemoore in Kings County. Several stations on the GasBuddy map were selling gasoline for under $3 per gallon, including $2.81 at a Fastrip store at 18th Avenue and Cinnamon Drive, $2.83 at a Sinclair station at Armstrong and D streets, and $2.85 at the Yokut Gas station near the Tachi Palace Hotel and Casino at Jersey and 17th avenues.

California’s statewide average price was reported at $3.62 per gallon on Monday. Nationally, the U.S. average continues to be well below California, at $2.65 per gallon, according to AAA. GasBuddy.com showed the national average at $2.63 per gallon – the lowest level so far this summer after a price drop of almost seven cents over the past week, said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy.

Not only are prices nationwide the lowest of the summer, DeHaan said in a blog post Monday, they are “the lowest since March as gas stations pass along the recent drop in prices brought on by the U.S./China trade rift.”

Demand for gasoline by drivers has gone up over the past week, “but it wasn’t enough to stay on pace with the huge jump in gasoline stocks,” said Jeanette Casselano, a AAA spokeswoman. “Therefore, pump prices continue to decline across the country.”

AAA reported that gasoline stocks across the West Coast as of Aug. 2 grew by about a half million barrels from the previous week, and sits at about 1.3 million barrels more than a year ago, “which would help prices stabilize if there is any disruption in supply or any increase in gas demand in the region this week,” the AAA analysis stated.

DeHaan, the GasBuddy analyst, said that global developments could drive prices up or down moving forward. “The drop in gas prices could slow in the weeks ahead as some OPEN members talk about cutting oil production to stem the recent drop in prices,” he said. He noted that crude oil prices had wobbled down and up over the past week, including a $3 per barrel increase as OPEN discussed production cuts.

“However, a production cut from oil producers may be more akin to putting lipstick on a pig as oil markets have plenty of downside ahead” as the summer driving season comes to an end and driver demand for gasoline drops, DeHaan added. “The U.S. national average could fall an additional 35 cents per gallon by Thanksgiving even after this week’s drop, should the trade tensions and geopolitical risks remain the same.”

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Lifelong Valley resident Tim Sheehan has worked in the Valley as a reporter and editor since 1986, and has been at The Fresno Bee since 1998. He is currently The Bee’s data reporter and covers California’s high-speed rail project and other transportation issues. He grew up in Madera, has a journalism degree from Fresno State and a master’s degree in leadership studies from Fresno Pacific University.
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