Drivers of the more than 400,000 cars and trucks registered in Santa Barbara County have seen some relief from sky-high gas prices in the past five weeks, a trend that is likely to continue, barring unexpected disruptions, according to Gas Buddy. The Boston-based company surveys 56 gas stations in Santa Barbara weekly.
Prices for gasoline fell 14.4 cents on average this past week, dropping to $5.88 a gallon on July 18 in Santa Barbara. That’s the first time since mid-May that gas prices have been so low. The highest price was $6.26 per gallon during the week of June 13. Nationally, diesel fuel prices fell 10.8 cents this week, landing at $5.54 per gallon.
The cooling gas prices reverse a trend linked in part to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, which disrupted fuel and food supplies around the world, but is also connected to lower production globally and increased demand. The pandemic is partly responsible for both, according to media reports: The labor shortage affected production, as did a glut in 2020, and demand increased for the petrochemicals used in medical plastics and packaging materials, according to the Los Angeles Times, both in heavy use during the past two years.
Before the spiking prices took off, Santa Barbara’s average gas price was more like $4.49 a gallon, which rose to $5.27 by the beginning of March.
Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, forecast that the national average would continue to fall through mid-August, “barring major hurricanes, outages, or unexpected disruptions.”