Gas prices friendly to travelers for third straight Thanksgiving

Tony Adame
Thanksgiving travelers in Okaloosa and Walton counties will have another year of holiday gas prices staying steady, according to a projection from consumer advocate GasBuddy. [FILE PHOTO/DAILY NEWS]

FORT WALTON BEACH – As the Head of Petroleum Analysis for a consumer advocate group focused on monitoring gas prices across the country, you might not expect someone like Patrick DeHaan to be much for jokes.

But when DeHaan sent out his gas price projections this week for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, he was fair game. As was his favorite team.

It’s easy to inject a sense of humor into things when gas prices are only anticipated to go up one cent for the holiday – a miniscule increase for the third straight year – and also projected to drop between now and Christmas.

“Many things this year won’t be changing,” said DeHaan, who works for GasBuddy. “First, expect the mediocre Detroit Lions and their fans, including me, to suffer for a third straight Thanksgiving Day. Second, expect the national average price of gasoline to be in the $2.50 (per gallon) range for the third straight Thanksgiving.

“Third, expect average gas prices to drop between now and Christmas.”

In Fort Walton Beach in the week before Thanksgiving, gas prices were hovering in the $2.25 range for regular unleaded, while in Destin they were around $2.35-$2.40. In Panama City, prices were creeping above $2.40 in most places.

And while gas prices have hovered around the same price for Thanksgiving trips the last three years, we haven’t experienced a significant increase since 2017, when prices hopped from $2.13 to $2.53 for the holiday. That followed the steepest drop in the last decade from 2013 to 2014, when prices dipped from $2.79 to $2.05.

Need more insight into our good fortunes at the gas pumps? We’re still lower than where we were at Thanksgiving 10 years ago – $2.62 in 2009 – and we’re almost one dollar underneath where we were in 2012, when prices hit a Thanksgiving decade-high of $3.44.

That was part of a three-year stretch from 2011-2013 where gas prices averaged $3.34 across the country for Thanksgiving. According to a recent GasBuddy survey, 65% of Thanksgiving travelers use automobiles.

The reason why we haven’t seen prices jump back up in that range? In recent years, we’ve been producing more of the oil ourselves.

“In regards to why prices remain far lower than earlier this decade, you see a paradigm change in 2015,” DeHaan said. “In late 2014, due to the rise in U.S. oil production, OPEC raised oil production, flooding the market and leading to lower price. In 2017, they tightened as you see prices rose, but because of continued increases in US oil production over the last few years, prices have remained relatively low.”