(The Center Square) – Arkansas drivers are paying the nation’s third-lowest gas price average, according to a AAA report on gas prices.
Arkansas residents are paying one cent less per gallon than last week at $2.69 for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline. The price is five cents less per gallon compared to the previous year. Fort Smith has the cheapest fuel at $2.62 a gallon, while West Memphis is the highest at $2.80.
“Gas prices have seen a mixed bag in the last week to close the year but annually drivers experienced savings at the pump year-over-year,” said AAA Spokesperson Nick Chabarria. “That comes as little surprise given Arkansas and the rest of the country experienced record high gas prices in June 2022, a mark we did not come close to in 2023.”
Only Mississippi and Texas have less expensive gas. Washington and California fuel costs are more than $4 per gallon.
The 2023 average gas price in Arkansas was $3.13 for regular unleaded, 39 cents less per gallon than in 2022 and 4 cents less than the national average for the same period when statewide annual averages peaked in Arkansas at $3.52 per gallon.
GasBuddy’s annual Fuel Price Outlook forecasts the yearly national average fuel cost will drop from $3.51 per gallon this year to $3.38 in 2024. Arkansas’s state average for 2024 is estimated between $2.92 and $3.22 per gallon.
“As the world continues to navigate situations like the Russian invasion of Ukraine and violence in the Middle East, an elevated level of uncertainty remains, making an accurate forecast very challenging,” the report said. “These situations, as well as the fluid state of the global economy, fiscal policy by central banks to tame inflation, as well as potential interest rate cuts could alter the direction of the economy, shifting fundamentals in significant ways.”
The $5 and $6 gas prices will fade into memory, said Patrick De Haan, head of Petroleum Analysis and author of the GasBuddy outlook report.
“The global refining picture continues to improve, providing more capacity and peace of mind that record-setting prices will stay away from the pump this year,” De Haan said. “2024 will feature some volatility, unexpected outages and disruptions, and potentially weather-related issues, but I do not expect it to feature record prices—anywhere.”