California, gas prices in the Bay Area are falling. Here’s how low they could go

Gas prices in the Bay Area and California have fallen about 70 cents since last month, and experts say prices could continue to fall over the Thanksgiving holiday — and possibly through the end of the year.

Experts say the price drop was due to several factors, including the state’s refineries fixing problems that pushed prices up to $8 in October, as well as the state’s shift to a blend of winter gas cheaper to manufacture. Crude oil prices have also been hovering between $85 and $95 a barrel for several weeks.

Gas demand is also generally lower during the winter months — especially in Northern California, experts say — as temperatures drop and people tend to stay closer to home.

“California is kind of getting a double dose of relief,” said Patrick De Haan, head of oil analysis at GasBuddy.

Still, California continues to have the most expensive gas in the country, with a national average price of $3.74 a gallon on Wednesday, according to AAA.

“Barring unforeseen events, gasoline prices are expected to drop over the holiday long weekend,” said Michelle Donati, spokeswoman for AAA in Northern California.

More than 7.3 million Californians are expected to travel over Thanksgiving weekend, with more than 6.3 million likely traveling by car — an increase of just 1.2% from last year, Donati said.

The worst time to travel by car in the Bay Area will likely be between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 23, on Interstate 80 west from Maritime Street to San Pablo Dam Road, AAA predicted.

Across the country, 54.6 million people are expected to travel over the holiday weekend – up 1.5% from last year and on track to become the third-busiest Thanksgiving travel season. loaded since the AAA began tracking travel volumes in 2000, the association said. The first and second took place in 2005 and 2019, respectively, AAA said.

“Families and friends are looking forward to spending time together this Thanksgiving, one of the busiest for travel in the past two decades,” Paula Twidale, senior vice president of travel at AAA, said in a statement. Press.

“Plan ahead and be patient whether you’re driving or flying,” Twidale added.

The average price of a gallon of gasoline in California was $5.40 on Wednesday, 68 cents lower than a month ago, according to data from the American Automobile Association.

In the Bay Area, which has some of the highest gas prices in the country, the city of Napa has seen the biggest price drop — 80 cents — in the past month, according to AAA data.

The average price of a gallon of gasoline in San Francisco on Wednesday was $5.54, 72 cents lower than a month ago; $5.42 in Oakland, a difference of 72 cents; $5.47 in San Jose, a difference of 66 cents; and $5.53 in Santa Rosa, 64 cents lower than last month, according to AAA data.

Drivers were encouraged to drive or use apps – like GoBuddy or Google Maps – that can help them find the cheapest prices in their area.

When gas prices drop, there’s more price variety, said Severin Borenstein, director of UC Berkeley’s Energy Institute.

“The payoff of looking for the lowest price in your area can be very high,” Borenstein said. “It’s not uncommon to see price differences of $0.60 to $1 a gallon in just a few blocks these days.”

It can also add pressure on high-priced gas stations to be more competitive, he added.

GasBuddy’s De Haan said prices could continue to gradually decline by the end of the year to the prices last seen at petrol stations last year.

“It’s not impossible that San Francisco will fall below $5 a gallon by the end of the year,” he said. “Now, if anything happens between now and the end of the year, it may not fully materialize, but I think the current trend is weighing more on the downside.”

Jessica Flores is a staff writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @jesssmflores

Leave a Comment