Falling oil prices have created massive headaches for some of the world's largest energy producers, but they're a big boon for American consumers. While U.S. drivers saved about $14 billion on gasoline in 2014, the savings in 2015 will likely be even more substantial, as the American Automobile Association (AAA) predicted in a Wednesday report that Americans could save as much as $75 billion on gas this year.
“Next year promises to provide much bigger savings to consumers as long as crude oil remains relatively cheap,” Avery Ash, an AAA spokesman, said in the report. “It would not be surprising for U.S. consumers to save $50 billion to $75 billion on gasoline in 2015 if prices remain low.”
Last year saw some of the lowest gas and oil prices in years. Oil prices fell to the lowest level in over five years earlier this week, and gasoline is less expensive in the U.S. now than at any point since 2010. A number of areas of the country are selling gas to drivers for less than $2 a gallon for the first time in recent memory as the U.S. shale boom and OPEC’s refusal to slash production to balance out the market have created an environment of plummeting gas prices.
Energy experts predict that the cost of gas will remain low for at least the first two quarters of 2015, and that they will only slowly rebound once they do start to come back up in response to lower levels of production and high demand. AAA said prices may fall another 10 cents per gallon over the next two weeks alone.
“As far as what that means for the consumer and for gas prices, I think we’ll be in these more depressed prices for at least the next two quarters, but I think we have to drift back higher over time,” Chad Mabry, an analyst in the energy and natural resources research department at the New York investment bank MLV and Co., told IBTimes Monday.
West Texas Intermediate crude was trading at $53.27 per barrel Thursday, the lowest level since May 1, 2009. The low price of oil has translated to super-low gas prices at the pump, averaging $2.26 per gallon as of Wednesday, the lowest level of 2014, which saw 97 days in a row of falling gas prices through the end of the year, according to AAA. The national average gas price Wednesday was $1.06 less per gallon less than it was a year earlier.