Albany again leads falling gas prices

ALBANY — For the second straight Monday, metro Albany motorists enjoyed the lowest average price at gas pumps of Georgia’s eight metropolitan statistical areas.

A quartet of stations on East Oglethorpe Boulevard had the best price for self-serve regular gasoline Monday morning, with the Liberty station, Chevron, Flash Foods and Homerun Foods from the Liberty Expressway to Mock Road each advertising $3.079.

Most of the other stations observed Monday in Albany ranged from $3.089 to $3.129 per gallon.

In its Monday Fuel Gauge Report, AAA Auto Club found metro Albany’s average Monday morning to be $3.15, well below Georgia’s $3.304 average and the national average of $3.472. Metro Macon was second with an average of $3.186, while the most expensive gas in the state was in metro Athens, which was at $3.351. GasBuddy.com didn’t list an Albany price Monday, but had the state average at $3.289 and the national at $3.491.

With a diplomatic solution still being pushed in Syria and no tropical storms threatening the oil-producing Gulf of Mexico, there’s been nothing to impede the normal September price decline. With the summer traveling season over and reduced demand, plus the less expensive winter gas blend coming online, prices could dip further.

“It’s normal for prices to fall in September,” said Mark Jenkins, AAA spokesman. “The summer driving season is over, demand is down, and refineries are switching to the cheaper winter-blend gasoline.”

The biggest impact of this year’s hurricane season was the destruction in Mexico caused last week by Hurricane Manuel from the Pacific and Tropical Storm Ingrid from the Atlantic. With most of the damage in the state of Guerrero, the death toll from flooding and mudslides was believed to be 110-115, with at least 70 others unaccounted for, according to Reuters reports Monday. No tropical storms have threatened the oil-producing region of the Gulf or the U.S. mainland. The National Weather Service’s National Hurricane Center listed no tropical storms in the Atlantic or Pacific Monday afternoon.

The question is whether the price per gallon will fall below $3. The national average has been above that mark for about two years and nine months, while the streak has been unbroken in Georgia for 963 days — more than two and a half years.

Since Sept. 1, AAA reported, the national average for a gallon of regular unleaded has fallen 12 cents. Florida’s average has decreased 15 cents, Georgia’s average fell 20 cents and there was a 13 cent decline in Tennessee.

“Prices could continue to fall another 5 to 10 cents before the end of the month,” Jenkins said, “but it’s unlikely they’ll go below $3 anytime soon.”

AAA reported Monday that last week the price of crude oil fell to $104.67 on the NYMEX, the lowest settlement since Aug. 21 and the biggest weekly drop in three months. The decline, AAA said, was credited to a rise in Libya’s oil production and the diminished threat of military strikes against Syria. The cost for a barrel of oil Friday on the NYMEX was $3.54 less than the previous Friday ($108.21).

Monday, oil continued its decline, with a possible thawing of U.S.-Iranian relations seen as another reason for a bearish oil market.

Compared to last year, there’s a lot less pain at the pump. On Sept. 23, 2013, metro Albany residents were paying an average of $3.699 for regular gas, eight-tenths of a cent above the state average but less than the national average of $3.814.

In the past week, metro Albany’s average dropped 9.1 cents per gallon and it’s down 23.5 cents since Aug. 23. The state has seen similar declines — an 8-cent drop from last week and a 15.4-cent improve from a month ago. The drop has been smaller nationally, with a 4.5-cent week-to-week drop and a 6.9-cent month-to-month decline, according to AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report.