Gas below $3 didn't last long

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

Drivers felt some gas-price whiplash yesterday, with prices falling below $3 in much of central Ohio and then shooting up by midafternoon.

This marked the possible end of a trend in which central Ohio’s average price fell each day in November, all the way down to $3.03 yesterday, the lowest since Dec. 19 of last year.

“As we transition into the holiday and into the new year, prices will move higher,” said Stephen Schork, editor of “The Schork Report,” an energy newsletter.

But he expects the increase in the national average price to be gradual, barring a major event that disrupts the flow of oil. And, in some parts of the country, the price is still falling.

The shift was anything but gradual yesterday in parts of central Ohio. Some people got in their cars at lunchtime not expecting to see prices that had risen to $3.29.

Even with the jump, Lauren Santorelli, 22, an Ohio State University-area resident, passed many gas stations with higher prices before she came upon a United Dairy Farmers on Hudson Street selling for less than $3.

“I drove all the way back here to get $2.95,” she said.

These gyrations are not unusual for central Ohio, said Greg Laskowski, senior petroleum analyst for

“The price volatility you have is unlike anywhere else in the country,” he said. “You have steeper peaks and valleys.”

Prices in the region are “driven by a few dominant retail chains,” which contributes to volatility as other gas stations follow the leaders, he said. By far, the largest chain is Speedway, though Laskowski declined to name companies.

In August, his website published a list of the metro areas with the largest one-day increases in average prices. Fort Wayne, Ind., was on top with 34 cents; followed by Dayton, 31 cents; and Columbus, 30 cents.

Many drivers were lucky enough to get gas before the price spike yesterday.

“I think it’s awesome, honestly,” said Ryan Froelich, 25, of Clintonville. “I honestly don’t remember the last time it was under $3.”

As of 4 p.m. yesterday, there were still several dozen stations with prices about $2.80, with the lowest at $2.83, according to GasBuddy.

On the high side, several stations were selling regular unleaded for $3.49, and many were at $3.29.



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