Kansas drivers have reason to be pumped this holiday season as average fuel prices have been steadily declining.
Since this time last month, the average gas price in the state has dropped about 42 cents to $2.42 per gallon for unleaded gas, according to AAA’s fuel gauge report for Friday. Since December 2013, the average unleaded gas price is down about 60 cents per gallon, the report said.
In Lawrence, that price is even lower, with the lowest price in town at just $2.31 per gallon at Woody’s Gas Express, 920 N. Second St., according to www.kansasgasprices.com. Many other Lawrence stations, like Kwik Shop, QuikTrip, Zarco and Presto, priced their fuel at $2.34 per gallon as of Friday afternoon.
Kansas University business professor George Bittlingmayer said the growing U.S. production of its own oil is a contributing factor in the fuel price decline. Bittlingmayer said oil and natural gas prices have been falling because of the ever-growing hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," industry in the United States.
“Since the fracking revolution in the U.S., we are producing almost as much oil as Saudi Arabia,” Bittlingmayer said. “The U.S. is producing about as much oil as we are consuming.”
Lawrence driver Kelly Cobb said the decrease allows her to travel more than she would have in the past.
“My husband and I are going to see my sister in Salina this weekend,” Cobb said. “(The lower gas prices) really help with travel.”
Paying just $2.34 per gallon along with an additional fuel discount that comes with her Dillons card, Cobb spent about $11.15 for 6.7 gallons of gas in preparation for her upcoming trip.
“I can see the impact,” Cobb said. “It impacts my daily life.”
But Rahim Dhanani, also a Lawrence driver, said while the fuel decline is nice for him as a consumer, it doesn’t alter the frequency that he fills up his tank.
“It doesn’t really change anything,” Dhanani said. “Last week, I went to Texas. I was still going to go if it cost $30 or $50. People need fuel and they’re not going to stop buying it if the price goes up.”
Dhanini said that he predicted the price would continue to drop to about $2.25.
Whether that will happen is not yet known, Bittlingmayer said, but if the recent decline is any indicator, holiday travelers might just have a few extra dollars to put into gifts instead of into their gas tanks.