Gas drops below $1.50 in some areas, and we haven't hit bottom yet

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What's So Bad About Cheap Gas?

American drivers are now enjoying gasoline prices that haven't been this low since January 2009.

Data from the AAA shows that the average annual price for a gallon of gas has been below $2 a gallon for about a month now. Just within the past week, the national average gas price ticked below $1.80 for a gallon of regular gas, a drop of 20 cents just since the beginning of 2016.

"I think you have probably another three to four weeks of prices in this area — I think we could drop another nickel or so," said Denton Cinquegrana, chief oil analyst at Oil Price Information Service. "Around March 1, you're going to see the bottom ... probably around $1.75, maybe $1.74," he said. In some states where gasoline is cheapest, Cinquegrana said drivers could be paying in the neighborhood of $1.50 a gallon.

GALLERY: US gas prices continue to decline:

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U.S. gas prices continue to decline
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Gas drops below $1.50 in some areas, and we haven't hit bottom yet
Photo by: Dennis Van Tine/STAR MAX/IPx 1/17/16 Gas Prices Tumble Toward $1.00 Iran sanctions have been lifted which will wash the world with more oil. By some estimates, the country can export 500,000 barrels a day. The increase in global supply begins just as the lowest U.S. gas prices for a gallon of regular hover above $1.30 in some parts of the country. The current national average is $1.90. As crude collapses toward $25, gas prices are on their way down, again.
Gas prices are displayed at an Exxon gas station in Woodbridge, Virginia, January 5, 2016. Oil prices fell further January 5 as the crude supply glut overshadowed a diplomatic row between key producers Saudi Arabia and Iran as fuel prices in the US have fallen below $2 per gallon. AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB / AFP / SAUL LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
Photo by: Dennis Van Tine/STAR MAX/IPx 1/11/16 The price of crude oil Monday plummeted another 5% to $31.41 a barrel Monday based on WTI Crude Oil. That's the commodity's lowest closing price since hitting $30.73 a barrel on Dec. 5, 2003, according to Bloomberg data. Talk about a brutal implosion that keeps raging. Oil prices are down 16%, just this year. That's coming off a brutal 2015 when oil prices dropped 30%. Oil prices have been falling in a historical collapse. Oil prices are now down a staggering 79% from the 20-year high of $145.29 notched on July 3, 2008, according to Bloomberg data.
In this Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2015, photo, Cornelio Bonilla pumps gas at Best Food Mart gas station in Gainesville Ga. The price of oil continues to fall, extending a slide that has already gone further and lasted longer than most thought, and probing depths not seen since 2003. (AP Photo/Kevin Liles)
MILL VALLEY, CA - SEPTEMBER 14: A customer at an Arco gas station prepares to pump gas into his truck on September 14, 2015 in Mill Valley, California. The average price of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline dropped 27 cents in the past three weeks to a national average of $2.44. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
In this Thursday, July 16, 2015 photo, a customer re-fuels her car at a Costco in Robinson Township, Pa. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
WOODBRIDGE, NJ - AUGUST 25: A gas attendant at a 19 Petroleum gas station pumps gas on August 25, 2015 in Woodbridge, New Jersey. Some places in New Jersey are seeing prices under two dollars as the price of gasoline continues to fall. (Photo by Yvonne Hemsey/Getty Images)
Motorist purchase gas at a station that dropped the unleaded fuel price to $1.99 per gallon, Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015, in San Antonio. The price of oil fell back below $39 a barrel after a U.S. government report showed an unexpected decline in demand for gasoline last week. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
In this May 8, 2015 photo, vehicles drive past a gas station in Andover, Mass. Even after the typical springtime run-up, the average price for gallon of regular gasoline should top out around $2.60, experts say. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)
A customer fuels his car at a Mobil gas station off Route 3 south, heading toward Cape Cod at the start of Mother's Day weekend, Friday, May 8, 2015, in Pembroke, Mass. With more money in their pockets thanks to lower gas prices and an improved job market, AAA expects more than 37 million Americans to travel for Memorial Day, the most since 2005. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)
In this May 6, 2015 photo, attendant James Lewis pumps gas at a station in Portland, Ore. Even after the typical springtime run-up, the average price for gallon of regular gasoline should top out around $2.60, experts say. (AP Photo/Don Ryan)
In this Monday, April 6, 2015 photo, cars pass by a gas station in Charlotte, N.C. Drivers will see the lowest summer gasoline prices in about 6 years, according to an Energy Department report released Tuesday. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
In this April 6, 2015 photo, Lucy Perez, of Charlotte, N.C., pumps gas at a station in Matthews, N.C. A slew of global economic and geopolitical factors are working to pummel the price of oil and set up U.S. drivers for very low gasoline prices later this year. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
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According to the AAA, Oklahoma is already there. On Monday, prices fell to $1.49 for a gallon of gas. Missouri is right at the $1.50 mark, while prices in Alabama, Arkansas, Kansas and Texas all average below $1.60 a gallon. AAA spokesman Michael Green said via email that nearly 10 percent of the gas stations in the country are now selling gas for less than $1.50.

Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy.com, predicted that the national average price of gas this year will be $2.28, delivering $17 billion in savings at the pump compared with what drivers paid last year.

READ MORE: Flashback! Gas Goes for 47 Cents a Gallon in Michigan

"Oversupplied market conditions will continue, and that's a big factor why gas prices are likely to stay lower than they did last year," he said.

A host of circumstances are contributing to this glut. China's economic slowdown is reducing global demand for gasoline, OPEC member nations have debated — but not yet implemented — production cuts and American shale oil producers have improved their extraction processes.

"The Saudis who started the whole era of low oil prices in 2014 have miscalculated how much more efficient U.S. producers have become," DeHaan said. "Even though the number of oil rigs is declining ... shale producers have become more efficient."

Analysts do expect prices to rise by summer, as more people take to the roads and as refiners produce more expensive summer-grade gasoline, but most of the country will still see highs well below $3 a gallon. According to GasBuddy's Fuel Price Outlook 2016, we'll end the year about where we began, with an average nationwide price of $2.01 a gallon.

READ MORE: Average Gas Price Falls Beneath $2 a Gallon for First Time Since 2009

"Yes, by definition it is a spike, but it's not going to spike to $3 or $3.50," Cinquegrana said.

"Market fundamentals remain unchanged and a 'lower-for-longer' sentiment is beginning to prevail amongst speculators," the AAA said in a recent report. For drivers, that's the best news they could get.

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