Gas prices on the decline, some say due to shutdown - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Gas prices on the decline, some say due to shutdown

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MADISON (WKOW) -- The recent trend of lower gas prices could be partially attributable to the government shutdown, but some experts say we owe cheaper costs to the time of year and a stable market, not to Congress.

"There's no evidence anywhere that fuel prices are being impacted," said GasBuddy.com's senior petroleum analyst Gregg Laskoski. "They'd be dropping regardless of whether there's a government shutdown."

In October, Wisconsin gas prices are averaging about $3.35 per gallon of regular gas, which is 25 cents less than last month's average of $3.60 and more than 40 cents less than in October 2012's average of $3.79, according to AAA's Daily Fuel Gauge Report.

Analysts at GasBuddy.com say the reason for lower prices is because of a winter blend of gasoline, which has fewer additives and is less expensive to produce. The winter-blend comes on the market annually on October 1, according to Laskoski, which, this year, coincided with the government shutdown.

Also, "there were issues with refineries in the Great Lakes region that kept prices elevated last year," Laskoski said.

However, other experts say they're not writing off any potential effects of the government shutdown on gas prices.

"U.S. and global markets are working to evaluate the impact of the federal government shutdown and renewed U.S. debt ceiling concerns," wrote federal relations manager Avery Ash in AAA's Fuel Gauge Report Overview.

"Furloughed workers aren't commuting to jobs, resulting in lower gas consumption," AAA expert Angela Daley told WSOC, our ABC affiliate in Charlotte, N.C.   

The story could change further as the country's debt ceiling looms, and gas prices could be pushed up or down if the U.S. defaults, according to Laskoski.

"Oh boy, I don't know if [reaching the debt ceiling] would necessarily have an impact," Laskoski said. "It might push crude oil prices higher. At the same time, there might be the rational that should the government default you might see fuel prices go down because the financial analysts and traders might expect people to tighten up on their spending."

More, analysts say the federal shutdown is leading to a lack of information.

"With the Fed shutdown continuing, we also will be seeing less data made available this week as it is the first week that we're not expecting the government to release a weekly report on changes in supply and demand, meaning traders will be somewhat blinded when it comes to trading futures, which could add to volatility," GasBuddy.com's senior petroleum analyst Patrick DeHaan said.

Still, Laskoski says that so long as there is extreme weather such as a hurricane that may disrupt oil supplies in the Gulf of Mexico, Wisconsinites should expect to see gas prices fall another 10 to 15 cents per gallon in the next two months.

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