Compared with this time last year, Kansas Citians should be feeling a little giddy about the price of gas.
On Friday, the average price for a gallon of regular gas was $2.60 on the Missouri side of Kansas City, down nearly 68 cents from a year ago, according to the Daily Fuel Gauge Report from AAA.
Diesel is down even more — the average price in Kansas City was $2.50 per gallon on Friday, down $1.13 from a year ago, according to AAA.
But that euphoria might be tempered a bit when drivers leave Kansas City and find prices for regular gas as much as 21 cents less per gallon in some cities. And you don’t have to drive too far to find the cheaper gas.
In Lawrence, for example, the average price per gallon of regular gas was $2.56; Topeka, $2.45; Columbia, $2.41; and Wichita and Springfield, $2.39. Even St. Louis, at $2.53, has cheaper gas than Kansas City.
In the AAA report, only drivers in Kansas City, Kan., at $2.67, were paying more for gas than Kansas City — typical, given Kansas’ higher fuel sales tax.
Kansas City drivers can point to the boutique fuel blend that Kansas City has to use to reduce smog, said Steve Mosby, a partner with Admo Energy, which helps fuel retailers manage their purchases of gas and diesel.
That special gasoline costs more to produce, and it has to be handled and shipped separately, he said.
“It costs the Kansas City consumer quite a bit of money every year,” Mosby said. “It very easily costs them 20 cents a gallon throughout the season.”
That can be $10 a month or more depending on a person’s driving habits, he said.
In addition, a month ago two refineries that supply Kansas City with its boutique gas had technical problems that crimped supplies. Those problems appear to have been resolved, Mosby said, but at the time it created a shortage of the boutique gas.
The margins between the wholesale cost of gas and the street price are large right now. While costs can force retailers to raise prices quickly, competition is the only real incentive to reduce them, Mosby said.
He expects there will be a significant correction in the price of gasoline in the next six or seven months because of a glut of crude oil, which has cut the cost of a barrel of oil from about $100 to less than $50 in the past year.
There are expectations that it will become even cheaper, but the price of crude oil will depend on a lot of variables, including what occurs with the economy in China and the Iran nuclear deal.
Nationally, most drivers are paying the lowest July prices since 2009, according to AAA’s weekly report on gas prices released earlier this week. Gas prices have dropped 12 days in a row.
The decrease nationwide is mainly a result of the cost of crude oil, said Mike Right, vice president of public affairs with AAA of Missouri.
“Barring any hiccups in the distribution system, we should be seeing relatively low gasoline prices for the remainder of the summer drive season,” Right said.