Fears about coronavirus are leading to lower gasoline prices in Missouri and across the nation. The respiratory illness has infected tens of thousands of people around the world and killed more than 3,000 others.

Coronavirus concerns blamed for gas price drop in Missouri and nationwide

With tens of millions of people quarantined in China, fewer people are using fuel, dramatically lowering demand. Rose White, with AAA auto club, says crude oil prices have dropped $9 a barrel during the past two weeks.

“With that, we’ve seen prices tumble across the nation,” White says. “In fact, just over the weekend, price dropped another five-cents a gallon with unleaded averaging $2.27 across the state.”

China is one of the world’s top petroleum users. With much of that nation grinding to a halt from the virus, global demand for gas has dropped significantly.

“U.S. stock levels are high right now, up about 1.4 million barrels above what we had seen just a year ago,” White says. “Typically at this time of year, we do see prices fluctuate a bit as refineries shut down operations for those mandatory inspections.”

White says fuel prices could continue to drop.

“I think it’s going to last a long time because I don’t know if we’ve seen the full impact yet of the coronavirus,” White says. “Certainly, OPEC is very concerned about the situation to the point that they are debating whether or not they should curb production an additional one million barrels per day.”

Missouri’s current average of 2.16 per gallon is 27 cents below the national average.

Matt Kelley of Radio Iowa contributed to this story