After small boost, gas prices should stay steady

Gasoline prices rose slightly in the past month and one Midwestern industry expert is expecting prices to stabilize. The average price of a gallon of unleaded gas rose 17-cents in Nebraska in the past 30 days. The statewide average is now a dollar-87 a gallon, two-cents above the national average.

Fuels analyst Tommi Makila says there’s one thing that’s keeping the gas prices in place. “Right now, the economy is really the major factor. It’s really overriding all the other factors, for example, the oil-producing countries have been cutting their output in an effort to make the prices go a bit higher,” Makila says.

But he says the economic slowdown has overridden those attempts to bump up the price. Makila says oil supply and demand usually dictate what’s happening with the price, but not at this point. He says there’s less economic activity with less shipping, and with people being laid off, there are fewer people commuting– which lowers demand. Makila says the lower prices haven’t made much difference in demand and supply.

He says another factor is the mindset of motorists — which may’ve changed after gas prices soared. “Maybe that when we did see the four-dollar gas last year, I think a lot of us might have learned our lesson,” Makila says. He says it seems when he talks to people, they don’t expect the low gas prices to last and have changed their habits a bit to use less gas all the time.

Nebraska hit an all-time high for gasoline prices in July of last year with four-ten a gallon, more than twice the current rate.