Gas prices have dropped steadily and some analysts believe it could drop another 50 cents.
Prices average about $3.72 around the state and are expected to be approximately $3.35 by late November, according to Patrick Dehaan, Senior Petroleum Analyst at GasBuddy.com.
“The average in Michigan has dropped 55 cents in the last month, and about 16 cents in the last week alone,” he said.
Dehaan said he predicted the trend will continue.
“Prices likely will continue to drop, but probably not at the rate we’ve been seeing,” he said. “I’d forecast the average gas price in Michigan to be in the low $3 range for the rest of the year, probably somewhere between $3.20 – $3.40.”
Dehaan said, it’s unlikely that the average station dips below $3, however it might happen in some densely populated areas.
Paul Natke, chairman of economics, said there are many patterns that affect gasoline prices.
“One thing to remember is that it’s a global market. Anything that drives oil prices one way or the other is going to affect gasoline prices,” he said. “That can be political events, such as in the Middle East, internal events, especially in OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) countries, because they operate as a cartel, and their goal is to restrict the supply and raise prices.”
Natke said natural disasters, like Hurricane Sandy, can shut down oil refineries for a number of days and can reduce and affect the prices.
“(Higher gas prices put) a bigger strain on people who are already struggling in other aspects, more so than people in the middle or upper classes,” Elizabeth Bradshaw, professor of sociology, anthropology and social work said. “I know also that many European countries are raising the price of gasoline to reduce consumption of it.”
Bradshaw said gas prices are significantly impacted by government policies because it shapes peoples’ consumption patterns.
“If there are declining gas reserves, they have to resort to alternative methods, like tar sand extraction and deep ocean off-shore drilling, things like that,” she said. “Part of the reason prices are so high is that it’s getting harder to extract the oil.”
Natke said electric cars are part of a large movement, but the cost efficiency of those is questionable.
“I don’t think in my lifetime or yours we’ll eliminate fuel as an energy source. There’s been a movement in the last 10 to 20 years toward more fuel efficiency,” Natke said.
Neither professor thought society will break its dependency any time soon.
“It’s going to be a long-term process,” Bradshaw said. “But we’ve reached a point where we need to do something.”