Gas prices reach new lows in Berkeley, throughout nation

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Ashish Samaddar/Staff

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California gas prices continue to reach significant lows this month, generating savings at the pump for Berkeley motorists, according to an American Automobile Association report released this week.

Californians are paying on average about $3.19 per gallon, approximately 40 cents fewer than they were a year ago. This represents the greatest annual decline in any state and follows a national trend of falling gas prices, according to the report.

“I’m delighted,” said Willa Johnson, a Berkeley resident. “It’s a good thing. It’s cool because it’s an opportunity to save money. It’s ridiculous what it (usually) costs to fill the tank up.”

The report estimated that Americans have saved more than $250 million each day since the price peaked for this year in late April. Thanksgiving prices are also expected to be at their lowest since 2009, and oil prices, in general, are expected to remain low.

Cynthia Harris, an AAA spokesperson, said the falling prices are the result of increased crude-oil development in the United States and declining crude-oil prices internationally.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest producer of oil, lowered the price of oil exports to the United States earlier this month.

Harris said California’s gas prices are typically some of the highest in the country due to stringent gasoline regulations and high costs of living.

In California, fuel-efficient cars and frugal consumer habits have also contributed to the decreasing price, Harris said. She added that prices also tend to fall after September and October, when gas companies switch to a more cheaply produced “winter blend.”

At the Chevron gas station on University Avenue, falling prices haven’t changed operations, but they have changed customer attitudes, according to Amit Jung Oli, a cashier at the station.

“Comparatively, more people are coming in because of the price,” Oli said. “Most people are happy.”

Justin McRay, a customer at the Berkeley Elements Petroleum Inc. station, said the price change could have a significant effect on the economy if prices remain low.

“More people would have more money to spend on things, even if it’s only a couple hundred a month,” McRay said. “That’s a down payment for a house in 10 years.”

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, which exports approximately 60 percent of the world’s petroleum, will meet Nov. 27 and potentially discuss their response to globally falling crude-oil prices, according to the report.

For some UC Berkeley students, the price change comes as a change of pace and a relief.

“I love it, especially when you’re a commuter and it helps out financially,” said Shuaib Amiri, a campus junior who commutes one-and-a-half hours from Livermore. “That $5 to $10 a week means more food. … I think it’s great, and I hope (the price) continues to stay low.”

Contact Alex Barreira at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @abarreira_dc.

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  • Doug F

    Why is this story illustrated with a photo of one of the highest-priced gas stations in the area? Especially among those not selling the same gas as name brands. The station hardly deserves the free advertising.

  • EastBayer

    “A couple hundred a month” savings? The average car is driven just over 1,000 miles per month. At 30 miles to the gallon, that’s 33 gallons. So gas would need to be $6/gallon cheaper in order to realize a savings of $200 per month (assuming they didn’t drive any more). The recent price decline is nowhere near that amount.

    Bottom line, people fixate WAY too much on gas prices. They really just aren’t that important a part of the household budget.

    • Doug F

      Last figures I saw, the average California (as opposed to US) car is driven more like 15k mi/yr, although it must be less in urban parts of the Bay Area. The average NEW car sold in ’14 gets 25mpg in mixed (city & highway) driving, but the fleet average for cars & light trucks of all ages is definitely well under 20. The average new car or pickup sold during recent periods of cheap gas got only 20-21.

      Your basic point is still accurate.

  • Johnny West

    It’s still poison, no matter what the cost. Humans were not meant to live in a world powered by toxic gases that babies and puppies have to breathe so that our cars can go 60 mph faster. Our power needs should be met by wind and solar sources only, as well as a beetroot juice-derived bio-oil that is harvested by disadvantaged Latin American communal farmers.

    • lspanker

      You first. When are you moving into that sod hut 50 miles east of Barstow again?

  • Henry

    It was only $2.89 at the Costco in Richmond last night!!

  • M2000

    Still want to divest from fossil fuels at the time when people need these prices to drop the most?

    • Johnny West

      Walking more > Cancerous air.

      Don’t be part of the problem by keeping the 2%ers in power because you’ve trauma bonded to their lies about petrol dependency ensuring job security please.

      • M2000

        And we’ll continue to be dependent on foreign oil because of your little divestment scheme which is what countries like Saudi Arabia, Turkey all want.

        Maybe there’s a reason why the divestment promotion is an upswing because of their oil prices have been dropping. Hmm, beginning to see the connections here. You climate alartmists are part of the problem, NOT the solution.

  • tridoug

    If you stop and think about what you’re getting for $4 it’s unbelievable. Pump it out of the ground, collect it, transport it somewhere, process it and transport it a few more times, put it on a tanker and sail it halfway around the world, pump it, transport it and process it a few more times, put it on a truck, bring it to a station and pump it into your car, all for $4? That’s insane. I pay more than that for a sammich.

    Sad part is most people only conserve when prices go up, so I’m looking forward to $10/gal.

    • Doug F

      It’s already close to that in almost the entire rest of the world, typically $8-9. Most of the difference is gas taxes, of course–but they get something for their money. You should see how well German roads are maintained…& how small the cars are for these tall people.