AAA: Texas gas prices drop to 2016 levels

AUSTIN ( -- Falling crude oil prices and falling demand for retail gasoline in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic is sending gas prices into a freefall, according to the latest numbers from AAA Texas.

The average price for a gallon of regular unleaded fuel in the Austin area is $1.79 this week, down ten cents from last week and 56 cents cheaper than this time a year ago.

Across the state, the average is $1.80 a gallon, which is 11 cents cheaper than a week ago and 62 cents cheaper than last year. Midland has the state's highest average, right at $2.00 a gallon, while drivers in Sherman and Denison are paying an average of $1.50 a gallon.

The national average price for a gallon of regular unleaded is $2.07, which is 13 cents less compared to this day last week and 58 cents less than the price per gallon at this same time last year.

"Demand for both crude oil and retail gasoline continues to decrease as fewer drivers are out on the road, causing gas prices to drop to levels not seen in four years," said Daniel Armbruster with AAA Texas. "The primary factors are concerns about coronavirus keeping people home plus Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and non-OPEC producers still have disagreements about future production figures."

Crude oil is the biggest driver of the less expensive gas prices as it counts for nearly 60% of the price at the pump. Gas prices are dropping at a time of year when they normally increase as the weather warms up and motorists would typically head out to enjoy spring break.

Analysts say the supply chain is sound and there is no need for motorists to rush to the pumps to fill up their tanks. Both supply and distribution channels are operating normally, even as most of the state's major metro areas are under some form of stay-at-home order.