NEW YORK — The gasoline price roller coaster is running a strange course this summer.
August began with the lowest average gasoline price for this time of year since 2010. Just a few weeks ago, drivers were paying the highest July Fourth gasoline price in six years.
The average price of a gallon of gasoline is $3.52 after falling 16 cents over the last month. Prices may continue to slide in early August and post larger drops after Labor Day — as long as there are no hurricanes that halt production in the Gulf Coast or violence in the Middle East that disrupts crude supplies.
“We’ll see some more drops, and clearly we’ll be below $3.50 by Monday,” says Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at the Oil Price Information Service and GasBuddy.com. “It’s absolutely counter-intuitive.”
Gasoline prices usually drop between Memorial Day and July Fourth after refiners have switched to making more-expensive summer blends of gasoline. They then tend to rise between July Fourth and Labor Day as vacation drivers burn through supplies and traders worry about hurricanes.
This year, gasoline prices rose after Memorial Day because turmoil in Iraq, OPEC’s second-biggest exporter, sent global crude prices rising. Oil rose to $107 per barrel on June 20 and gasoline reached $3.68 a gallon in late June.