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Why Gas Prices Are Rising While Oil Prices Continue To Drop

gas station

On the same day oil prices dropped below $50 a barrel, gas stations in Indiana raised prices for the first time in several weeks.

"If the crude oil price drop had come late last week, that might have allowed stations to continue dropping gas prices," said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst with GasBuddy.com. "But stations had dropped their prices faster than the drop in wholesale gas prices, so stations were operating at razor thin margins, with some stations even losing money."

As a result, gas stations around the greater Indianapolis area raised prices by 35 cents a gallon or more, with many settling around $2.15 a gallon. 

Prices had been even lower in some parts of the state. As of Monday morning, Crawfordsville had the lowest prices in the entire US according to DeHaan, with one station dropping regular unleaded to $1.42 a gallon. Now, DeHaan says we will likely see a return to the price cycling we had become accustomed to, where stations cut prices slowly until they can‘t afford to cut them any more.

"It was brought on by stations becoming so competitive that they caused each other to essentially lose money on gasoline," he says.

If it is a price cycle, gas prices should start to trickle back down later this week.

"I expect that by the weekend or early next week, prices will again be under $2 a gallon," DeHaan predicts.

Most analysts had expected oil prices to settle in the low to mid-$50 range, so DeHaan says markets were likely shocked when the price of crude continued to go down. A price drop that was initially triggered by the decision of OPEC countries to not reduce production levels has continued.

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