Mich. gas prices fall, defying July Fourth tradition
Michigan and the rest of the country are breaking with a Fourth of July tradition as gas prices have declined instead of rising headed into the holiday week.
AAA Michigan reported Monday that gas prices statewide have decreased about 6 cents per gallon in the past week to about $2.29 a gallon at the 2,800 gas stations it surveys across the state. Gas Buddy, a Boston-based smart phone app and website that monitors prices as well, has detected a 12-cents-a-gallon drop to $2.26 a gallon in Michigan during the past seven days.
In Metro Detroit, drivers can buy unleaded regular gas from as low as $1.97 to $2 a gallon at stations ranging from Woodhaven to Trenton to Davison, according to GasBuddy.
“It’s thrilling to see gas prices falling just in time for the most-traveled summer holiday. Perhaps we can finally get rid of the myth that gas prices go up for the holiday,” said Patrick DeHaan, GasBuddy senior petroleum analyst.
Metro Detroit drivers said they appreciate the prices, especially when gas spiked as high as $4 a gallon or more at times in the region in 2011-13.
“I can fill up for like $30 instead of nearly $40, which is a great thing” said Bukurie Milicaj, 24, as she filled up for $2.19 a gallon at a Dearborn BP station and was preparing to head with family for Lexington.
Fuel prices are lower this summer than in January — something that GasBuddy reports it has never seen in its 17 years of monitoring prices. January is in the dead of winter when fuel demand is at its lowest in America, while summertime prices are usually inflated by vacation travel and the production of more expensive gas blends to meet regional smog standards.
Nationwide, the average gas price of $2.21 a gallon is the lowest since 2005, when it was $2.20 a gallon, according to GasBuddy.
Michigan prices have been falling since June 23 even though the price of oil on international markets has been rising for 12 consecutive days, said Dan McTeague, another GasBuddy expert. Eventually gas station owners, who operate on thin retail margins, will be forced to increase prices and stop the streak.
“Take advantage of it while you can,” McTeague said Monday.
The price decline is being fueled by consumers who still aren’t driving as much as expected and healthy refineries, which were able earlier this year to buy oil at cheaper prices and produce more gas while running into few problems, he said.
In the past, Michigan prices have spiked when refineries in Illinois, Ohio and Indiana shut down for unexpected repairs and longer-than-usual maintenance issues.
“There have been very few instances of refineries running into problems,” McTeague said.
But the spread between the state’s lowest and highest-priced gas stations is more than 50 cents a gallon — a historic high — so consumers should be careful because they are likely to overpay for fuel, according to GasBuddy.
On Monday afternoon, Guiding Truth Missionary Baptist Church Pastor James Fergerson was filling up his red Ford Taurus SHO at a Farmington Hills Mobil station on 13 Mile and Orchard Lake. Even with the price being $2.39 a gallon for regular, James said it was still too high for him to travel this weekend.
“If they were lower, I probably would have taken my family to Ohio to get out of town for a few days,” said James, 48 of Farmington Hills.
His total came to $39.50. Noticing the Valero station sign across the street listed gas was $2.28 a gallon — 11 cents cheaper — he shook his head.
“I should have gone over there,” he said.