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Albany leads state with less pain at the pump

There were three centers of storm activity in the Atlantic region Monday, but none posed an imminent danger to the United States. (NOAA)

There were three centers of storm activity in the Atlantic region Monday, but none posed an imminent danger to the United States. (NOAA)

ALBANY — Gasoline prices are continuing their season slide this week — with metro Albany leading the state’s eight metro area’s with the lowest average prices Monday.

On Monday, Albany beat out the Augusta metro area by three-tenths of a cent to claim the lowest average price for a gallon of self-serve regular gas — $3.241, according to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report.. The lowest observed prices were at a trio of gas stations at East Oglethorpe Boulevard and the Liberty Expressway, which were at $3.189 Monday morning. Others in the area were at $3.199 and prices were in the low $3.20s at most other stations in the city.

Today, however, will mark a significant milestone in the price at the pump. According to AAA Auto Club Group, today will be the 1,000th consecutive day that the average gas price nationally has exceeded $3 per gallon. AAA officials expect that trend to continue for the foreseeable future. The national average Monday, according to the Fuel Gauge Report, was $3.517.

In Georgia, motorists still have a month and a half before reaching the 1,000-day mark. “Georgia gas prices didn’t reach $3 a gallon until Jan. 6, 2011,” Mark Jenkins, AAA spokesman, said. “Prices fluctuated some, but have remained above $3 since Feb. 4, 2011.

“While Georgia motorists may get lucky and occasionally pay less than $3 per gallon in the future, $2 gas prices are mostly a thing of the past.”

Signs are that gas prices will likely continue to drop. After the United States and Russia reached an agreement on Syria that may preclude U.S. military involvement, crude oil prices, which had been rising, dropped. Friday’s close at $108.21 on the NYMEX was $2.32 below the previous week.

“The market has settled since President Obama decided against an air strike on Syria,” Jenkins said. “Although Syria does not produce oil, there was concern that a U.S. led attack would cause violence to spillover into neighboring oil-producing countries. It appears that is no longer a concern at the moment.”

Also, the Atlantic hurricane season hasn’t produced a storm that has threatened oil production in the Gulf of Mexico, demand is declining after the end of the traditional summer travel season and the less expensive winter-blend gasoline, which does not require additives that the summer blend has for hotter months, is starting to be produced.

Metro Albany’s $3.241 per gallon was well below last Monday’s $3.36 average, and far below the $3.754 that Albany area motorists were paying Sept. 16, 2012. The highest average cost in Georgia on Monday, according to the Fuel Gauge Report, was in metro Athens — $3.446.

Another organization that watches pump prices said the the cost in Georgia had fallen 9.4 cents per gallon in the past week. GasBuddy.com., which checks daily with 5,883 outlets in the states, said the average price of a gallon of regular Sunday was $3.37.

“The national average has seen some downward direction in the last week, but the best is likely yet to come,” GasBuddy.com Senior Petroleum Analyst Patrick DeHaan said. “While there certainly are a few issues that could impact gasoline prices on our plate, the switch over back to winter gasoline has begun, and I do expect that gas prices may continue to move downward this week for most of the United States.

“California, however, does have some recent refining kinks that may mean it joins the lower price party a bit later, but by Halloween, my expectation is the national average will stand five to 15 cents per gallon lower than where it is today.”

The Atlantic doesn’t have any weather formations that are likely to affect oil production in the United States in the near future. Monday afternoon, there was a tropic disturbance near the Yucatan Peninsula that had a 20 percent chance of developing into a tropical cyclone. The season’s eighth named storm, Humberto, was downgraded from hurricane to tropical storm and was in the mid-Atlantic with projections indicating a northeastern track away from the United States.

The ninth named storm, Ingrid, was a tropical depression over Mexico and was headed west.