With another coronavirus relief deal still up in the air, gas prices have continued to remain subdued across most of the United States. Patrick DeHaan is the head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy and he says another round of stimulus for Americans could boost the economy and oil demand. As of now, gas prices in Missoula and Montana remain stagnant.

“Average prices in Missoula are holding at $2.27 per gallon and that is unchanged from a week ago,” DeHaan said. “It is down slightly; about five cents lower than a month ago. Meanwhile, the state of Montana’s average is virtually unchanged, holding at about $2.25 per gallon in the last week. Both Montana and Missoula are down about 50 cents per gallon from a year ago. We are still seeing a major affect from COVID-19, which has reduced gasoline demand and kept a lot of Americans closer to home.”

Starting in March, prices really disconnected from a year ago. DeHaan says it has been a very affordable year at the pump.

“We are likely to close out the year some point between 35 to 50 cents per gallon lower for average prices this year,” DeHaan said. “Demand has been much lower this year as well. We have also seen events like hurricanes basically have no effect on prices. It has been a very unusual year. We can expect this affect to continue until we see some return to normalcy.”

DeHaan believes prices will eventually get back to around where they were a year ago, but he thinks it will be more of a gradual increase.

“As we slowly return to normal, there is the possibility that gas prices may eventually go higher than year ago levels after the situation is concluded,” DeHaan said. “That is simply because the low price era that was brought on by COVID-19 has reduced oil production significantly. If we do see oil demand go back up once we are beyond this situation, there probably won’t be enough supply right away to meet that increase in recovery and demands.”

In the meantime, DeHaan says we're likely in store for another week of sideways price movements, keeping average gas prices near current levels for the fourth straight month.