As holiday travelers fill up, there’s actually good news on Lawrence gas prices

photo by: Associated Press

A gas pump nozzle fills up a car at a pump in West Mifflin, Pa., on Friday, Nov. 16, 2018. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

There are signs the stars really are aligning in a nearly unprecedented way this Thanksgiving season. Yes, the all-you-can-eat buffets in the region still have banned my entry, but I might get a heck of a deal on gasoline. Just as you are ready to fill up the holiday cruiser, gas prices in Lawrence are the cheapest in the state.

Indeed, you heard that right. According to AAA, Lawrence currently has the lowest gasoline prices of any metro area in Kansas. That hardly ever happens. In fact, I’ve frequently pointed out how Lawrence has the highest gasoline prices of any metro in the state. Often you can drive 6 miles to Eudora and pay 10 cents to 15 cents per gallon less for gasoline than in Lawrence.

And Topeka is almost always much cheaper for gasoline than Lawrence. But the latest AAA report says the average gas price in Lawrence is a full 21 cents cheaper than Topeka’s. It’s like it is bizarro world. What’s next? My tie doesn’t end up in the gravy boat? Here’s a look at metro gasoline prices in Kansas, according to the AAA Gas Price Report:

• Lawrence: $2.23 per gallon

• Wichita: $2.25 per gallon

• Kansas City: $2.34 per gallon

• Topeka: $2.44 per gallon

• Manhattan: $2.56 per gallon

• Statewide average: $2.36 per gallon

Gasoline prices have been on a decline. Last year at this time, the average Lawrence price was $2.44 per gallon. Just a month ago, the Lawrence average was $2.70 per gallon.

Gasoline prices have fallen as oil producers have miscalculated supply and demand, according to several industry reports. The world seemed to think sanctions against Iran would drop oil supplies, but then the Trump administration granted some waivers that allowed certain large customers to continue purchasing Iranian oil. Plus, there are concerns that the economy may be in the early stages of a slowdown, which would produce a pullback in demand for oil. That worry has been a factor in recent declines in the stock market.

On the positive side, The Washington Post reports that the monthlong decline in oil prices is saving Americans about $80 million a day at the gas pump.

As for why Lawrence has gone from a high-priced metro to a low-priced metro, I don’t have an answer for that. I’ve never really had an answer for why it has been a high-priced metro. Some numbers show Lawrence has fewer gas stations per capita than other markets, which could make for less competition. But it has always been unclear whether that really played a role in Lawrence prices.

On that front, before you ask, I don’t have any specific update on plans for a new Casey’s General Store on Sixth Street, other than the project is still seeking its final approvals from City Hall. That project would bring a new, competitive retailer into the market, but it has been seeking city approval to locate at 1703 W. Sixth St. for about 14 months. Access issues have taken longer to work through than expected, I’ve been told. I’ll try to get another update soon.

In terms of other news about gas prices, the AAA report does list statewide averages across the country. For those of you who may be traveling throughout the region this Thanksgiving, here’s a look at the averages in some nearby states:

• Missouri: $2.26 per gallon

• Oklahoma: $2.28 per gallon

• Texas: $2.32 per gallon

• Arkansas: $2.38 per gallon

• Iowa: $2.38 per gallon

• Nebraska: $2.45 per gallon

• Colorado: $2.72 per gallon


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