SALT LAKE CITY — The average price for a gallon of regular gasoline is down more than 60 cents in Utah from December 2019, one positive development of the coronavirus pandemic after a year of wildly fluctuating demand.
Statistics collected by the AAA travel services company show Utah's current average gas price is $2.282, down from $2.923 one year ago.
Additionally, the company says the average price for midgrade gas is currently $2.449, premium gas is $2.611, and a gallon of diesel fuel averages $2.673 throughout the state. Those numbers, across the board, are lower than prices a year ago, a month ago, a week ago, and even down slightly from Tuesday. One exception is diesel, which is slightly up from a month ago.
But Utah's average gas price is still slightly higher than the national average, which AAA reports is at $2.159.
AAA says Provo and Orem have the lowest average gas prices of any major Utah metropolitan area, at $2.178 per gallon. That's compared to $2.286 in Ogden, $2.302 in Logan, $2.249 in Salt Lake City, and $2.394 in St. George.
On a countywide scale, AAA gives Beaver County the state's highest average gas prices at $2.604 per gallon, while Sevier County checks in with the lowest prices at $2.101. Northern and western Utah counties generally reported lower gas prices than southern and eastern counties.
AAA spokesman Sergio Avila said intrastate variation in gas prices can usually be explained by either local taxes or by differences in demand.
"Those are two things that could be a factor in the price differential," he said, but added there are "a lot of things that go into it."
Avila said the pandemic is probably the main factor that has driven down gasoline demand, and gas prices, in 2020.
"The demand just isn't there that was there last year," he said. "Of course, the lack of demand comes from the fact that there is a pandemic, and a lot of people just aren't driving as much as they used to."
Demand was driven so low in April that oil futures briefly went negative.
Avila said advances in the coronavirus vaccine, and the speed at which Utahns return to the office and start commuting again will be the main things to watch with regard to gas prices moving forward.
"If people are starting to be welcomed back to the office, and required to head back to work, obviously, that'll boost the demand, for sure," he said.
But with mass vaccinations probably still a few months out, and barring a major supply disruption or disaster, Avila said there's no reason to expect a major fluctuation in gas prices in the near future.