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National gas prices – including in California – likely to fall under $2 due to coronavirus crisis: Expert

California

A gas pump fills a car with fuel at a gas station on May 10, 2017 in San Rafael, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Coronavirus has caused gas prices nationwide to plummet, and they will likely drop below the $2 mark soon across the country — including, eventually, in California.

That’s according to Patrick DeHaan, an analyst for the fuel pricing website GasBuddy.com.

The national average of a gallon of regular unleaded dipped under $2.20 on Thursday. That’s roughly 25 cents lower than a month ago and 35 cents lower than a year ago, AAA reports.

California gasoline prices, which continue to be among the highest in the nation at $3.28, have also dropped by double digits in the past week.

With local, state and federal officials urging residents to hunker down indoors to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, fewer people are taking to the roads. That’s leading to to cheaper gas.

“What is coronavirus doing to push down gas prices? Well … it keeps people — like myself here — locked in their houses, or should. And that’s caused oil demand to plummet,” DeHaan explained in a Facebook video on Thursday. “Oil demand is very much lower than it was even in weeks past, and when oil demand goes down, prices go down.” 

If the situation doesn’t change soon, expect the cost of gas in all 50 states to drop significantly, DeHaan said. He believes the national average will dip below $2 in the next few days or week.

AAA is also predicting that the national average will hit $2 per gallon before the end of March.

That hasn’t happened since 2016, when the national average was as low as a $1.66.

Even California, with its notoriously expensive gas, will likely fall below the $2 mark, according to DeHaan.

“Californians, rejoice: you’re going to join in the party,” he said.

DeHaan predicts that gas prices will experience a precipitous decline in the near future and is advising motorists not to fill up their tanks unless they absolutely must.

“Tell your friends, you don’t need to rush out to fill up, if you’re even driving — prices are going to come down another 35 to 75 cents,” he said.

More than a dozen states had already dropped below the $2 average as of Wednesday.

One station — in London, Kentucky — is already even selling gasoline for less than $1.

So how long can we expect cheaper gas?

DeHaan said prices will eventually recover, especially once the crisis over. That could possibly come this summer.

But even when prices do increase, they likely won’t be at the summer levels that were initially anticipated. That could mean prices closer to $2 gallon during the summer, according to DeHaan.

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