Oklahoma has the least expensive gas in the country, and Arkansas is not far behind as the national average stays under $2 a gallon for a month.

Oklahoma has the least expensive gas in the country, and Arkansas is not far behind as the national average stays under $2 a gallon for a month.


The average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gas in Arkansas on Monday was $1.58 a gallon and $1.49 in Oklahoma.


Monday’s national average price of $1.80 per gallon is the lowest price for gasoline since January 2009, according to the latest AAA Fuel Gauge Report. Gas prices have fallen for 24 of the past 26 days, and the combination of seasonal reductions in gasoline demand and the relatively lower price for crude oil are likely to help keep prices low in the near term, AAA states.


Average retail gasoline prices in Arkansas have fallen 3.9 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $1.56 a gallon, according to GasBuddy’s daily survey of 1,826 gas outlets in Arkansas.


According to GasBuddy historical data, gasoline prices fro the day in Arkansas have ranged widely over the last five years: $1.90 in 2015, $3.05 in 2014, $3.30 in 2013, $3.33 in 2012 and $2.95 in 2011.


No Bottom Yet


Although there was speculation recently in the market of possible oil production cuts among the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), prices for West Texas Intermediate crude fell $2 a barrel on Monday to $31.58 after rallying 40 cents last week. With no calls or reports of those production cuts in the Middle East or Russia, the prices are expected to continue a decline.


"There’s a lot of discontent in OPEC," said Patrick DeHaan, senior oil analyst for GasBuddy.com. "Iran and the Saudis are like the Hatfields and McCoys, it seems like."


While the U.S. Congress recently lifted a ban on American oil exports, U.S., European Union and United Nations sanctions were also lifted on Iran in mid-January. And although the Saudi Arabians and Iranians may be founding members of OPEC, bitter relations remain and have escalated in recent weeks with severed diplomatic ties.


According to a recent Reuters survey, Iran Iran provided the biggest increase in supply among the OPEC members and "sources familiar with the matter say Iran is reluctant to restrain supply as it wants to recover market share and feels that the economic benefits of lifting sanctions offset the drop in oil prices."


There has been some lash-back from Iranian hard-liners lately who object to foreign investors entering Iran to update production facilities.


As a side note, OPEC states that Indonesia, which suspended its membership in January 2009, was reactivated as an OPEC member Jan. 1.


The boom and bust nature of the oil business, likewise, is felt on U.S. and Canadian oil companies, which have laid off thousands of workers.


Industry consultant Graves & Co. released a report last month stating low oil prices have triggered layoffs of more than 258,000 workers globally. According to Baker Hughes Rig Counts there has been a 60 percent decrease in operating oil and gas rigs in the past year. There were 619 the week of Jan. 29, the latest count available, with 88 of those in Oklahoma. In comparison, there were 183 in Oklahoma this time last year.


DeHaan says the warm El Nino-fueled weather in the northeast states has also contributed slightly to the lower oil prices. Heating oil that comes from crude oil distillates has seen weaker demand as states like New York convert to natural gas. And although there is still snow on the ground from the late January East Coast blizzard, overall winter weather in the most northern states has been warmer than last year.


According to AgWeb.com, January was the second warmest in 25 years and while the month was cooler than the record warm December, it was still the warmest January in three years for the U.S. overall with above average temperatures. The Northeast and Great Lakes showed the greatest change toward warmer weather while the Central Rocky Mountains had the greatest change toward colder weather.