AAA reports that the average price paid at filling stations across the United States was $2.40 per gallon. That's an average of 94 cents less per gallon than American motorists paid last year. The current national average is just $2 per gallon, which is the lowest average price recorded on New Year's Eve since 2008, and the national average for December was barely more at $2.01 – the lowest it's been since March 2009.
Furthermore, 71 percent of stations across the US are selling gas for less than $2 per gallon, which can be found at at least one station in 47 of the states in the Union. If you looked hard hard enough, you might have even found one of the 16,000+ stations selling gas for under $1.75 (like the Mobil station pictured above in Livonia, MI). Okay, maybe not if you live in California, which for the first time in history had the highest average prices in the nation. But prices were better in the Southeast – especially in South Carolina, but recorded the lowest average prices in the country for the fourth year running.
What that all boils down to is that Americans saved about $115 billion on gasoline this past year compared to the year before. That's more than $550 in every licensed driver's pocket, on average. And the outlook for gas prices for the year ahead looks even better: AAA projects that the average price Americans will pay throughout 2016 will land between $2.25 and $2.45 – or a good ten cents per gallon less (give or take) than the already low prices paid this year.
Gas Prices This Year Averaged About 94 Cents per Gallon Less than 2014
· The national average price of gas in 2015 was $2.40 per gallon, which was the second cheapest annual average of the past ten years. Only 2009 was lower during that time. This year's annual average was about 94 cents per gallon less than 2014.
· AAA estimates that Americans saved more than $115 billion on gasoline this year compared to 2014, which was an average of more than $550 per licensed driver.
· The annual average price of gas in recent years was $3.34 (2014), $3.49 (2013), $3.60 (2012), $3.51 (2011), $2.78 (2010) and $2.35 (2009).
· The most expensive daily national average of the year was $2.804 per gallon on June 15, while the lowest was $1.998 per gallon on December 21. Average gas prices dropped below $2 on December 21 for the first time since March 25, 2009.
· The average price of diesel in 2015 was $2.71 per gallon, which was the lowest average for the fuel since 2009. Last year diesel averaged $3.81 per gallon.
· The average price of premium gasoline in 2015 was $2.84 per gallon, which was about 87 cents per gallon less than the previous year. The average difference between regular and premium was 44 cents per gallon in 2015, which was the largest difference on record.
· Fuel prices remained relatively low throughout the year due to a worldwide glut in crude oil. There was more than enough oil to meet demand around the world, and that allowed oil prices to drop to the lowest levels since 2009.
Average Gas Prices Close Out the Year at $2 per Gallon
· Today's national average price of gas is $2 per gallon, which is the lowest average for New Year's Eve since 2008. Today's average is about 26 cents per gallon less than a year ago.
· The national average price of gas for December was $2.01 per gallon, which was the lowest monthly average since March 2009.
· Gas prices are lower than $2 per gallon in most parts of the country. About 71 percent of U.S. stations are selling gas for less than $2 per gallon today, and drivers can find at least one station selling gas for less than $2 in 47 states.
· The cheapest one percent of stations are selling gas for an average of $1.56 per gallon, and more than 16,000 stations across the country are selling gas for less than $1.75 per gallon.
· The five states with the lowest average prices today include: Missouri ($1.72), Oklahoma ($1.75), South Carolina ($1.75), Arkansas ($1.75) and Tennessee ($1.76).
· The five states with the highest prices today include: California ($2.85), Hawaii ($2.69), Nevada ($2.51), Washington ($2.47) and Alaska ($2.47).
Californians Paid Highest Gas Prices in 2015 for First Time on Record
· California had the most expensive annual average of any state in 2015 for the first time on record. California's annual average was $3.16 per gallon. California's refineries experienced a significant number of problems throughout the year, which disrupted regional production and kept gas prices higher than expected.
· Gas prices in Southern California were even higher than the rest of the state. For example, the annual average in Los Angeles was $3.29 per gallon in 2015.
· The next most expensive states for gasoline included Hawaii ($3.10), Alaska ($2.97), Nevada ($2.86), Washington ($2.73) and Oregon ($2.68).
· Despite paying relatively high prices throughout the year, California's average was still 59 cents per gallon less than 2014, due to the relatively low cost of crude oil.
· Since 2000, Hawaii has typically been the most expensive state for gasoline, and its average was the highest for 13 out of the previous 16 years. Alaska's average was highest in 2008 and 2009.
Drivers in Southeastern United States Paid the Lowest Gas Prices in 2015
· South Carolina's annual average price of gas was the cheapest in the country for the fourth year in a row at $2.10 per gallon, and this also was the lowest annual average for the state since 2004. Drivers in South Carolina paid about $1 less during the year than in 2014.
· The next lowest gas prices were also in the Southeastern U.S. in Mississippi ($2.14), Alabama ($2.15), Tennessee ($2.16) and Louisiana ($2.18).
· Drivers in many Southeastern states benefit from relatively low gasoline taxes and access to abundant refinery production along the U.S. Gulf Coast.
Drivers May Pay Even Less for Gasoline in 2016
· Gas prices are likely to remain relatively low in 2016. AAA estimates the annual average price of gas in 2016 is likely to end up between $2.25 and $2.45 per gallon, which would be cheaper or at least comparable to this year's average of $2.40 per gallon.
· Based on typical seasonal trends, the national average price of gas could remain relatively flat or drop another 10 cents per gallon over the next few weeks. By late winter, the national average could rise 50 cents per gallon or more as refineries conduct seasonal maintenance in advance of the busy summer driving season. Despite the likelihood of higher prices by spring, AAA does not expect the national average price of gas to rise above $3 per gallon in 2016.
· Regional gas prices will continue to vary dramatically around the country in 2016. Problems with local refinery production, especially during spring maintenance and the busy summer driving season, could temporarily send regional gas prices much higher than the national average. Just as in 2015, it is possible that some areas could see prices higher than $3 per gallon.
· There is significant uncertainty over the potential cost of crude oil in 2016, though most analysts expect the market will remain oversupplied throughout the year. There currently is a glut of crude oil around the world that has grown faster than demand, and that situation is unlikely to change significantly as Iranian oil enters the marketplace and because the global economy is growing at a relatively weak pace.
· It is possible that gas prices could rise higher than expected if there are significant changes in the oil markets. Some analysts have predicted that low prices will significantly limit oil production in the United States and in other higher-cost production countries, which could allow supply and demand to rebalance by the end of 2016. Alternatively, it also is possible that political events and conflict could unexpectedly disrupt oil production. Either of these possibilities could lead to higher than predicted oil and gasoline prices for Americans.