Gas prices for Thanksgiving will hold more or less steady

By one metric, consumers are pouring about $800 million more down the gas tank than they were last year.
By Daniel J. Graeber  |  Nov. 21, 2017 at 7:04 AM
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Nov. 21 (UPI) -- Moving into the long Thanksgiving holiday, U.S. drivers are putting more money into their gas tanks and are expected to drive further than last year, experts say.

Motor club AAA posts a national average retail price of $2.53 for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline as of Tuesday morning. That's a little less than Monday, about 3 cents less than last week, but about 3 percent, or about 8 cents per gallon, more than this time last month.

Market factors during the second half of the year meant the normal seasonal drop in gas prices was delayed. Hurricanes this year struck the large network of refineries along the Gulf Coast, and this year saw the United States emerging as a crude oil exporter, crimping some supplies of petroleum products at home.

Last week, TransCanada's Keystone crude oil pipeline shut down after spilling 5,000 barrels of oil in rural South Dakota, making the situation somewhat worse. Already the most volatile market in the country, the Great Lakes states may experience the worst of the shutdown.

"The impact to gas prices in the Midwest will be based on the length of time the pipeline is down," AAA spokesperson Jeanette Casselano said in a statement.

Heavy refinery maintenance in the region also made for a rough season for consumers. By AAA's estimates, five states in the region are paying 50 cents or more per gallon than they were last year, with Illinois topping the list with a 59 cent spike.

Drivers in the West Coast market, meanwhile, continue to pay the most for gas, a situation compounded by higher fuel taxes. Drivers there, however, may get some relief as AAA said refineries are working at a rate that would help stabilize prices moving into the long Thanksgiving holiday.

Analysts at GasBuddy, meanwhile, expect the national average to stay on par with today's level for the holiday, making it the most-expensive Thanksgiving at the pump since 2014. On average, GasBuddy, in an emailed market report, estimates U.S. consumers put $800 million more in their gas tanks than last year.

Both surveys, however, find travelers are driving further away for the holiday. The number of holiday-goers driving more than 10 hours this weekend would be about 4 percent more than last year, if estimates prove to be accurate.

The federal government estimates an average price for gas for November at $2.47 per gallon. December prices should be around $2.39 per gallon.

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