Motorists crowd the pumps at the BP station in Merrillville. Jonathan Miano, The Times
Motorists crowd the pumps at the BP station in Merrillville. Jonathan Miano, The Times
Gas prices plunged in Northwest Indiana last week, falling by as much as 40 cents per gallon as motorists prepare to hit the road for the Thanksgiving holiday.

The national average for a gallon of gas fell to $3.66 last week, about 11 cents lower than the previous week, as a result of increasing supply and a decline in driving, according to AAA. Gas prices fell 19 cents per gallon last week to an average of $3.85 a gallon in Indiana and 16 cents a gallon to $4 a gallon in Illinois, two of the largest drops in the country.

Crude oil prices fell $1.56 last week to $80.08 a barrel.

Despite the drop, it's still the highest gas prices have been during Thanksgiving nationally since AAA started keeping records in 2000. Retail gas prices, however, are expected to continue to fall this week.

“The national average has fallen sharply since the June peak of nearly $5.02,” said Molly Hart, spokesperson for AAA–The Auto Club Group. “But this Thanksgiving will be about 20 cents higher than a year ago, and a dollar more per gallon than a pre-pandemic 2019. However, we can be thankful that gas prices are moving in the right direction for now.”

The cost of fueling one's ride is 16 cents a gallon higher than a month ago and 26 cents more than a year ago, according to AAA.

Gas now costs an average of $3.88 a gallon in Lake County, $4.01 a gallon in Porter County and $3.92 per gallon in LaPorte County, according to GasBuddy.com. As of Monday, the average price of gas was $3.94 in Newton County and $3.82 in Pulaski County, Jasper County and Starke County. That's a decrease of 23 cents a gallon in Lake County, 35 cents a gallon in LaPorte County and 40 cents a gallon in Jasper County.

Gas prices in the greater Chicago metropolitan area average $4.17, including an average of $4.58 within city limits, according to AAA. Gas costs about $3.90 per gallon in Fort Wayne and $3.77 per gallon in South Bend.

The Energy Information Administration estimates gas demand fell from 9.01 million barrels per day to 8.74 million barrels per day last week. Domestic gasoline stocks fell by 2.2 million barrels to 207.9 barrels.

An estimated two-thirds of adults in the United States told AAA they have adjusted their driving habits since the Russian invasion of Ukraine sent gas prices soaring worldwide in late February, such as by driving less often and combining errands when they go out.

“What an incredible turnaround in the last week. While a decline was expected in more states than last week, I didn’t expect every single state to hop on the bandwagon so quickly. But, it’s terrific news as motorists prepare for Thanksgiving travel, with tens of thousands of stations under $3 per gallon, and thousands more to join in the next few weeks, barring a dramatic turnaround,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy.

The downward trend of retail gas prices could continue if no other major disruptions occur to roil the market.

“Everyone will be seeing relief at the pump this week, with even more substantial declines on the way as oil prices plummeted last week to briefly trade under $80 per barrel," he said. "It’s not impossible that if oil markets hold here, we could see a national average of $2.99 around Christmas, certainly the gift that every motorist is hoping for. Drivers shouldn’t be in a rush to fill up as prices will come down nearly coast-to-coast into the heavily traveled Thanksgiving holiday.”
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