Why Oklahoma has the lowest gas prices

Tuesday, 24 Dec 2013 | 8:00 AM ET
Charly Triballeau | AFP | Getty Images

Christmas came early this year for drivers in Oklahoma. They've been paying the cheapest prices for gasoline in the nation for months. For an extra special holiday gift, the state with the lowest prices in the U.S. saw prices plummet even further, hitting a 2013 low of $2.84 a gallon on Dec. 18.

Prices have gained ground since then. On Monday, the average price for regular gasoline in the Sooner State was $2.94 a gallon, according to GasBuddy.com.

Oklahoma gas prices have plunged about $1.00 a gallon—a more than 25 percent drop—from the all-time high for the statewide average reached back in May.

Nationally, the average price for regular gasoline hit a low for the year last month—$3.20 a gallon on Nov. 11—and has been slowly rising ever since, due in large part to rising gas prices in the Northeast where supplies are tight.

Retail gas prices jump
CNBC's Sharon Epperson reports drivers are paying about the same price on retail gas nationally as they were 1 year ago.

(Read more: 2014 power play: Energy prices hit a 4-year low)

Why have Oklahoma drivers gotten such a great deal?

"The lowest prices tend to be in places close to refineries, but particularly close to the cheap domestic crude. Oklahoma is the beneficiary of cheap domestic crude as are the Rockies and much of the great plains right now. They also have a low tax structure," said Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at GasBuddy.com.

Consider it a "double discount." Oklahoma's gasoline taxes are among the lowest in the nation, Oklahoma state gasoline tax and fees are 17 cents less a gallon—less than half the national average. There are only 4 states in the country with cheaper gasoline taxes.

Plus, the state's refineries use a lower-priced oil than many East, West and Gulf Coast refineries. There are five refineries in Oklahoma that together process about 520,000 barrels per day of crude—oil that doesn't have to come far and is far cheaper than the coasts.

(Read more: Mexico energy: High hopes for 'magnificent reform')

As the Midwest oil boom continues—particularly in North Dakota and parts of the Rockies, Kloza says Oklahoma and several other states in the interior of the country will likely continue to see the lowest gas prices in the nation in 2014.


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