Lower prices at the pump are helping to keep pocketbooks plumper. The average cost of gas in the U.S. is $3.04 per gallon, the lowest since 2010.
In 17 states, the price of gas is under $3 a gallon. Only dealers in Hawaii charge more than $4 a gallon. Since late June, prices on average have dropped half a cent a day. Crude oil prices have fallen 25 percent since mid-June. Now a barrel costs about $80 dollars.
Why are prices plummeting? One reason may be that the U.S. is producing more oil, thanks to new drilling techniques. In June the International Energy Agency said U.S. rigs beat Saudi Arabia and Russia in energy extraction this year.
But oil analyst Chris Edmonds warns that low prices could spell trouble for domestic producers. "At $80 to $85, you begin to hear companies talk about cutting back. At $75 and below, you actually see companies cut back," he said.
And U.S. companies aren’t the only ones affected by the price drop. In Europe demand is weakening and threatens already flagging economies. In China demand is also slowing after years of boom.
The 166th meeting of OPEC is scheduled for late November in Vienna, where price, supply and demand are sure to be top agenda items.
Who do plummeting prices help? Who do they harm?
How long will prices stay low?
What kind of effect could this have on U.S. and other economies?
We consulted a panel of experts for the Inside Story.