For the first time in four years, the national average price for a gallon of gas is under $3.
According to the American Automobile Association, the current national average is $2.96. Florida’s average price per gallon is $2.94, 6 cents less than it was a week ago.
Chris McCarty, director of the University of Florida’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research, said gas prices are plummeting due to timing, a decline in demand and an increase in supply.
He said prices typically fall after Labor Day, when school begins, and rise after Memorial Day in the spring.
“People don’t travel as much after summer,” he said.
McCarty said the main reason for declining prices is the international and domestic supply and demand for oil, and other countries all over the world are having severe economic problems.
Typical economic powerhouses like Europe and China are now struggling to maintain growth in terms of gross domestic product, leaving the U.S. to generate oil with less competition.
“The price of a barrel of oil internationally is lower because as someone selling a barrel of oil, you can’t keep charging a lot of money if people aren’t using it,” McCarty said. “You have to lower your price.”
The domestic oil drilling boom is due largely to hydraulic fracking, a process of extracting natural gas from shale rock layers within the Earth.
“The U.S. could be energy independent for 100 years with so much frackable oil trapped down there,” McCarty said. “However, it is very controversial — there are pros and cons.”
Local gas stations are experiencing the change in prices firsthand.
Alex Travieso, a 26-year-old employee at the BP gas station at 931 W. University Ave. in Gainesville, said the decrease in gas prices has increased the amount of customers that buy items inside the station.
“People are saving their money and spending it somewhere else,” he said.
Nick Patel, owner of the Chevron gas station at 1024 W. University Ave. in Gainesville, said the frequency at which the prices displayed on the signs change depends on the volume the station experiences. Prices fluctuate more at stations near the highway due to a higher amount of traffic.
“Every day it’s different,” Patel said.
Patel’s station was selling regular gas for $2.95 per gallon on Tuesday. He said he predicts prices will continue to fall.
Shelby Geisler, a 22-year-old finance senior at UF, said he is concerned about oil consumption in the U.S, but will still take advantage of current gas prices.
“I think oil will be gone in 50 years,” he said. “It’s a limited resource. It took millions of years to produce the amount we have, and we’re burning it in a matter of tens of years.”
Geisler topped off his scooter Monday.
“I usually walk everywhere,” he said. “But I was at a quarter tank today and filled it up while prices are low.”