Tuesday, March 20 , 2018, 3:41 am | Fair 51º



Gas Prices Dip Below $3 at Some Stations in Santa Barbara County

Trends show prices could continue to fall for the foreseeable future

Gasoline prices have fallen below $3 per gallon at some Santa Barbara County pumps, and that number could continue dropping at least through December.

A handful of South Coast stations are pricing regular retail gasoline at just under $3, with many others hovering just above that mark, according to GasBuddy.com data.

On Monday in Santa Barbara, stations selling regular gas at $2.99 per gallon included American Fuel at 2234 De la Vina St. and Educated Car Wash at 3735 State St.

A couple of Goleta locations, including Valero at 5661 Calle Real, also dropped to $2.99, along with Conserv Fuel at 801 E. Ocean Ave. in Lompoc.

Drivers saw even lower prices in the North County, where three Santa Maria stations priced regular gas at $2.95, including Foods Co at 1493 S. Broadway and two Arco locations on Donovan and Blosser roads.

The average Santa Barbara price lingered at $3.20 per gallon — down 39 cents from last month’s average of $3.60 and 45 cents from this time last year, data showed.

Drivers happily waited in line at Valero on Monday, enjoying a drop that differed greatly from the highest month of average prices seen this year — $4.34 per gallon back in April.

Patrick DeHaan, a senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com, said drivers across the country were reaping the benefits of Saudi oil companies and others in the Middle East that cut crude oil prices, possibly because of a boom in U.S. petroleum production.

While oil prices are typically higher in spring and summer, when folks do most of their traveling, DeHaan said this year’s decrease has shocked almost everyone.

“Gas prices are very cyclical,” he told Noozhawk. “The degree of the decline is what’s more of a surprise. Kind of a myth buster to everyone saying gas prices go up for the holidays. It certainly could hold until at least mid December.”

Santa Barbara and California still trail the national average of $2.89 per gallon — the lowest mark since Dec. 2, 2010, according to Triple A.

DeHaan said prices could remain low for most of 2015, although he stopped short of a guarantee.

“That’s still kind of a developing story,” he said. “We really don’t know where the bottom is. Prices should continue to move lower, perhaps not every day. The overall trend should remain lower.”

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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