Tumbling oil prices may have cost Kern oilfields hundreds of jobs in recent months, but if there's a bright side, it's the continuing decline in gasoline prices.
If only there were somewhere fun to travel during the lockdown, right?
The AAA reported Thursday that Bakersfield's average was $2.648 per gallon, a decline of 9.4 cents from a week earlier and 62.4 cents down from a month ago.
There's a good chance local gas prices have another nickel or dime per gallon to fall, auto club spokeswoman Jeanette Casselano said. But the pace of the decline will slow, she added, meaning prices will drop only very gradually during the next few weeks.
"You’re going to continue to see gas prices decrease, but I would say … we’re not going to see another 25-cent drop," Casselano said.
Shopping around couldn't hurt. Gasbuddy.com, a consumer website listing consumer-reported gas prices, stated Bakersfield's cheapest gasoline, at $1.949 per gallon, was found Thursday at Central Cali Deli & Grocery, 801 E. California Ave.
The same price was posted at On The Go Food Store, 2501 River Blvd.
Observers say two main factors have contributed to low fuel prices: supply and demand for crude oil.
Barrel prices, which AAA says account for 60 percent of gasoline prices, have plummeted since late February.
Local benchmark Midway-Sunset was trading Thursday at a little less than $20 per barrel, which was less than half what it sold for in early March.
The decline was caused by a price war that broke out in late February between Russia and Saudi Arabia. At the same time, global demand for energy is down because of lockdown orders issued around the world because of the coronavirus pandemic.
How long pump prices stay down may depend on how soon the world economy gets back to running at full speed again.
Casselano said not to expect prices to shoot back up in the near term. It will take time before travel and other activities return to normal levels, and until they do, she said, prices will remain relatively low.
The California Energy Commission reported that gas prices in the state have declined for eight consecutive weeks.
Its website said Thursday the state's average price for a gallon of regular unleaded was $2.751, which was 88.8 cents more expensive than the national average.
There are several reasons for the disparity between California gas prices and those available around the country, the commission says.
California taxes fuel at a higher rate than other states, it reports, and it costs more money to produce gasoline here than elsewhere in the United States.
Environmental program costs and California's extended use of summer-blend gas also add to the state's relatively high prices, according to the commission.
Also, California's geographical isolation from other oil-producing states — there are no oil pipelines crossing The Rockies — make the state less responsive to price declines elsewhere.
Plus, the commission notes that consumers essentially pay more to cover the cost of bringing in oil from overseas, where roughly two-thirds of California's oil supply originates.