HOLMES AND WASHINGTON COUNTIES — As the COVID-19 crisis ebbs on, Holmes and Washington counties are seeing close to matching gas prices for the first time in a long time as gas prices continue to decline after a turbulent week in the fuel market. Crude oil prices sank to record lows last week amid growing concerns that producers are running out of space to store excess fuel supplies.


While this is a relief for drivers in the counties, with gas prices at approximately $1.75 per gallon at stations, officials in the gas industries continue to have concerns about the growing reservoir of oil building as drivers continue to stay home amid the statewide stay at home order in place.


According to officials, the state gas prices remain at 4-year lows with prices at the pump averaging $1.78 per gallon. State averages declined 3.5 cents last week and are nearly $1 per gallon cheaper than this time last year officials say. Florida gas prices have declined 64 cents since February 20. Gasoline production out of the Gulf Coast is nearly 30 percent lower than this time last year.


"Gas prices face continued downward pressure from extremely low demand, as residents are urged to stay home to stop the spread of coronavirus," Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA - The Auto Club Group said in a recent email. "The low demand has made it less profitable to pump oil and convert it to gasoline and jet fuel. Refiners are now having to make difficult decisions to either reduce output or close plants in attempt to lower gasoline supplies to match demand."


Jenkins said the oversupply issues for gasoline are similar to the issues with the global supply of crude. Last week, the price of crude collapsed by more than 300 percent, with prices dipping well into the negative. Energy experts believe, Jenkins said, global crude storage will reach capacity within the next 3-4 weeks, unless output is dramatically reduced.


By the end of last week crude oil futures were at $16 per barrel, which was an improvement from the middle of the week, when trading was just above $1. The improvement, according to Jenkins, was brought on by many factors including a new contract month and another US stimulus package.


How does Washington and Holmes gas prices compare?


Compared to our counties, the most expensive Florida metro markets include West Palm Beach-Boca Raton ($1.95), Gainesville ($1.94), and Fort Lauderdale ($1.90).


Compared to our counties, the least expensive Florida metro markets include Jacksonville ($1.62), Punta Gorda ($1.65), and Panama City ($1.65).