Americans Saved More Than $115B on Gas in 2015

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Americans Saved More Than $115B on Gas in 2015

01/04/2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The national average price of gas in 2015 was $2.40 per gallon of regular gasoline, the second-cheapest annual average for the past 10 years, according to the AAA Year-End Gas Price Report. The year's annual average was also approximately 94 cents per gallon less than 2014.

Over the course of the year, AAA estimates that Americans saved more than $115 billion on gasoline compared to 2014, which was an average of more than $550 per licensed driver. In recent years, the annual average price of gas was $3.34 (2014), $3.49 (2013), $3.60 (2012), $3.51 (2011), $2.78 (2010) and $2.35 (2009).

The most expensive day of the year was June 15, when the daily national average was $2.804 per gallon, and the least expensive was Dec. 21, when it was $1.998 per gallon. Average gas prices dropped below $2 per gallon on Dec. 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. In 2014, diesel averaged $3.81 per gallon.

The average price of premium gasoline was $2.84 per gallon, 87 cents per gallon less than 2014. The average difference between regular and premium was 44 cents per gallon in 2015, marking the largest difference on record.

Overall, fuel prices remained relatively low throughout 2015 due to a worldwide glut in crude oil, which was more than enough to meet demand and allowed oil prices to drop to their lowest levels since 2009.

The current national average price of gas was $2 per gallon as of Dec. 31, which was the lowest average for New Year's Eve since 2008. This was also approximately 26 cents less than one year ago. For the month of December, the national average was $2.01 per gallon, which was the lowest monthly average since March 2009.

In most parts of the country, gas prices are currently lower than $2 per gallon, and about 71 percent of U.S. gas stations are selling gas for less than $2 per gallon. Drivers can find at least one gas station selling gas for less than $2 in 47 states.

The cheapest 1 percent of gas stations are selling gas for an average of $1.56 per gallon, and more than 16,000 gas stations across the United States are selling gas for less than $1.75 per gallon.

The five states with the lowest average prices include Missouri ($1.72), Oklahoma ($1.75), South Carolina ($1.75), Arkansas ($1.75) and Tennessee ($1.76), while the five states with the highest prices include California ($2.85), Hawaii ($2.69), Nevada ($2.51), Washington ($2.47) and Alaska ($2.47).

For the first time on record, drivers in California had the most expensive annual average for any state in 2015 due to problems at the state's refineries that disrupted regional production. Its annual average was $3.16 per gallon. Prices in Southern California were particularly high. The next most expensive states for gasoline in 2015 were Hawaii ($3.10), Alaska ($2.97), Nevada ($2.86), Washington ($2.73) and Oregon ($2.68). Still, while it paid 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, AAA found.

Hawaii has typically been the most expensive state for gasoline since 2000, and its average was the highest for 13 of the previous 16 years. Alaska had the highest average in 2008 and 2009.

South Carolina saw the cheapest annual average price of gas for the fourth year in a row at $2.10 per gallon, which was also the lowest annual average since 2004. Drivers in the state 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). The region benefited from relatively low gasoline taxes and access to abundant refinery along the Gulf Coast.

Gas prices will likely remain relatively low in 2016, with the annual average price estimated to be between $2.25 and $2.45 per gallon, according to AAA.

Based on typical seasonal trends, the national average could remain relatively flat or drop another 10 cents per gallon over the next few weeks. By late winter, it could increase 50 cents per gallon or more as refineries conduct seasonal maintenance to prepare for the summer driving season. However, 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 in 2016. Problems with local refinery production, especially during spring maintenance and the summer driving season, could temporarily push regional gas prices higher than the national average, and as in 2015, some areas could see prices higher than $3 per gallon.