Drop in oil prices lowers price at the pump in Columbia

Friday, July 18, 2008 | 4:49 p.m. CDT; updated 7:31 p.m. CST, Friday, February 19, 2010

COLUMBIA — The price of gas dropped 9 cents overnight in Columbia because of falling oil prices.

Oil fell to $129.29 a barrel Thursday, and by mid-afternoon Friday it had dropped to $128.91.

By Friday morning, gas in Columbia was down to $3.89.9 per gallon.

But Missouri Department of Natural Resources Energy Center spokesman Kerry Cordray said the drop in prices at the pump wouldn’t necessarily last. “I would be pretty cautious about saying this kind of a small dip that we’ve seen is anything people should be optimistic about in terms of the overall trends,” Cordray said.

He said the oil market works in an “atmosphere of volatility,” and that the price of gas is affected quickly by world events.

Cordray said a dip in crude oil prices likely prompted the drop in prices at the pump. He said that even though the gas in the marketplace right now might have been produced at a higher price, the price at the pump responds quickly to the crude oil market.

The dip in crude prices was likely caused by a slightly strengthened dollar, Cordray said. Crude oil is bought and sold with U.S. dollars, so when the value of the dollar rises, the price of oil drops.

Some people at the pump said the 9-cent reprieve wasn’t enough to help them out.

Scott De Ornellis, 44, was fueling up at Break Time on Business Loop 70 on Friday afternoon. He said that the 9-cent drop was not enough to make a difference.

Naomi Lahiri, 19, who was buying gas Friday at the Break Time on Ash Street and Providence Road, said that she is using her bike as her primary transportation. “It used to take me $40 to fill up my tank, now it takes $50,” she said. “It is way cheaper to ride my bike.”

Alex Knoll, 25, was fueling up his 2006 Volkswagon Passat at HyVee. He said that he already carpools but if gas prices go up higher, he will have to change his driving habits more.

Missouri has had some of the lowest prices in the country this year, and Cordray said Missouri typically has fairly low prices compared to the rest of the country.

“The overall trend, if it continues to hold, is that Missouri will continue to enjoy some of the lowest prices in the country,” he said.

But predictions on gas prices need to be taken with a grain of salt, Cordray said. He said the U.S. Department of Energy has had to revise its predictions on a monthly basis for the past year. He said the recent increases in gas prices weren’t anticipated by experts.

“Even the best predictions based on analysis can be defeated by all the factors that lead to the volatility of the market,” he said. “They don’t have a crystal ball to see into the future.”

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