Pump prices start post-Labor Day decline

The Atlantic has been relatively quiet this season. The eighth named system, Humberto, has formed off the west African coast and is likely to reach hurricane strength. (Graphic: National Hurricane Center)

The Atlantic has been relatively quiet this season. The eighth named system, Humberto, has formed off the west African coast and is likely to reach hurricane strength. (Graphic: National Hurricane Center)

ALBANY — An East Albany gas station again had the least pain at the pump for local motorists in a windshield survey of gas prices Monday as costs appeared to be making their traditional post-Labor day decline despite tensions over possible U.S. involvement in Syria.

Most stations in Albany were selling self-serve regular gas at $3.349-$3.359 Monday morning, with prices settling in that area in both East and West Albany. The Chevron station at 1800 E. Oglethorpe Blvd., however, continued to set the pace at $3.319 — 3 cents per gallon lower than the next-closest competitor that did not require a membership or use of a brand-specific cash card.

According to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report, the average price of a gallon of self-serve regular gas in metro Albany was $3.36 Monday, a nickel per gallon improvement over Labor Day. The average was eight-tenths of a cent higher than Aug. 9, but well below the average of $3.704 that motorists experienced on Sept. 9, 2012.

In Georgia, Albany had the third-lowest average price for the eight metro areas, trailing Augusta, which was at $3.30, and Macon, $3.347. The high-cost metro area again was Atlanta, which was at $3.547.

The average price Monday for the state was $3.484, down 4.2 cents from a week ago and up 2.1 cents from Aug. 9. On Sept. 9, 2012, the average cost in Georgia was $3.808.

Georgia beat the national average of $3.57, which was a 2.4 cent improvement from Labor Day and seven-tenths of a cent more than the average price on Aug. 9. The national average on Sept. 9, 2012 was $3.825.

Officials with national organizations that keep close tabs on gas prices said that the potential for a U.S. air strike against non-oil-producing Syria had not adversely affected the normal price drop after the unofficial ending of the summer driving season, though crude prices were seeing increases.

“This is the time of year when gas prices typically drop,” said Mark Jenkins, AAA spokesman for the Auto Club Group. “We’ve passed the busy summer driving season so demand is down, gasoline supplies are higher than they were a year ago and this is the first time in 11 years that we’ve finished August without a hurricane.”

Jenkins noted, however, that crude oil reached a two-year high mark last week after Russian President Vladamir Putin promised to help Syria if the U.S. were to strike.The price for a barrel of oil closed at $110.53 Friday on the NYMEX, up $2.88 from the previous week.

Syria doesn’t produce oil, but the concerns are that escalated involvement could cause a spillover of tensions into into surrounding countries that do produce oil, potentially disrupting Middle East exports. “Continued discussions of a possible air strike has caused uncertainty in the market and that’s keeping upward pressure on oil prices,” Jenkins said.

GasBuddy.com., which conducts a daily survey of 5,883 gas outlets in Georgia, said average retail prices in Georgia on Sunday had fallen 4.4 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.48. That compared with the national average that had fallen 2.3 cents per gallon over the week to $3.59, according GasBuddy.

The organization’s survey found that gas prices in Georgia Sunday were 31.8 cents per gallon lower than the same day one year ago and were 2.4 cents per gallon higher than a month ago.

“Gas price limbo has continued for another week, with average prices across the United States virtually the same as they were a month ago,” GasBuddy.com Senior Petroleum Analyst Patrick DeHaan said. “Opening week for football certainly brought more excitement than we’ve seen at the gas pump lately, but one thing is for sure — with gas prices averaging 22-cents per gallon lower than last year, there’s a lot of extra hot dogs and beer that can be consumed instead of being redirected into the tanks of American motorists.

“While the situation in Syria bears further monitoring, and hurricane season remains on the radar, we’ve still seen prices continue to hold level. In fact, the cumulative yearly average for a gallon of gas stands at $3.57 per gallon, compared to one year ago when it was $3.62 per gallon, so while motorists feel this has been a bad year for gas prices, it hasn’t been as painful as 2012.”

There was some activity in the Atlantic, but nothing that appeared to be a danger to the oil-producing Gulf Coast. The National Hurricane Center noted this morning that the remnants of Gabrielle were about 500 miles southwest of Bermuda and headed northeast with only a 20 percent chance of developing into a cyclone.

The Atlantic’s eighth named storm of the season, Tropical Storm Humberto, with 40 mph winds, had formed off the west coast of Africa. Projections by the Hurricane Center had it likely to reach hurricane strength by Wednesday or Thursday, but the projected path Monday was away from the U.S. mainland and the Gulf Coast.