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Gas prices drop before holiday

Staff Writer

Drivers in Marion County had an early Thanksgiving surprise this week, with gas prices around the county seeing a decrease of several cents.

Gasoline and diesel prices have both come down since Oct. 1, Mid-Kansas Cooperative’s director of energy operations David Sell said.

“We’ve seen a little reprieve in prices,” he said. “So I’m hoping that continues through to Christmas.”

While he can’t predict the trend from Thanksgiving to Christmas, Sell expected the prices to remain strong, he said.

“As far as supply and demand goes, I don’t see much change in the next six months, so we should be somewhat in the market where we’re at.”

The prices are hovering between $2.34 and $2.39, but they fluctuate even over the course of one day, Sell said.

“It used to be, 20 years ago, the price of gas might change a quarter cent per day,” he said. “Today it’s seven or eight cents. How people choose to market that risk through their pump prices is dramatically different from one area to the next.”

Transportation costs are an area that significantly changes the price, Sell said. With a refinery in El Dorado, and another at McPherson, Marion County benefits from its central location.

The difference in travel from McPherson to Manhattan raises the price four or five cents per gallon compared to Hillsboro, he said.

Another key component is the information available to residents, and their perception of gas prices.

“We’re in an information age,” Sell said. “There’s so much information, some of it makes sense, and some of it doesn’t. That creates a lot of volatility in the market.”

Last week’s prices were similar to last year’s at the same time, but last year they were on the rise, Sell said.

Diesel has seen less decrease than gasoline due to the late harvest, and consistently strong demand, he said.

County prices are comparable to Wichita, and remain lower than other densely populated areas like Lawrence and Garden City.

The county’s drop in prices is part of a Kansas-wide trend, and one that extends to several states across the U.S.

Statewide, the average is down to $2.47, a Nov. 12 report by AAA found. Kansas prices had the fourth-largest decrease in the U.S. from Nov. 5 to Nov. 12, dropping 9 cents.

The change will factor into a 4.6 percent increase in the number of people from the West North Central Region traveling 50 miles or more from last year, AAA projected in a Thursday report.

AAA estimates 4.4 million travelers from the region, with 90 percent of them driving.

Last modified Nov. 19, 2018

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