0

August gas pump prices hit a 4-year low

Metro Albany again leads state in lowest average pump price for gas, $3.199

Murphy off Cordele Road in East Albany was one of a number of Albany gas stations selling regular-grade gas at $3.099 Monday. Metro Albany had the lowest average rate in the state Monday morning, according to the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report. Prices nationally are at a four-year low as school resumes. (Staff photo: Jim Hendricks)

Murphy off Cordele Road in East Albany was one of a number of Albany gas stations selling regular-grade gas at $3.099 Monday. Metro Albany had the lowest average rate in the state Monday morning, according to the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report. Prices nationally are at a four-year low as school resumes. (Staff photo: Jim Hendricks)

ALBANY — Retail gas prices were inching toward the $3 mark at some metro Albany gas stations as the average cost of a gallon of gas in the United States opened August at a four-year low.

METRO GEORGIA PRICES

These were the Monday morning average gas prices for the U.S., Georgia and Georgia metro areas according to the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report:

U.S. -- $3.50

Georgia -- $3.392

Albany -- $3.199

Athens -- $3.447

Atlanta -- $3.446

Augusta -- $3.331

Columbus -- $3.276

Macon -- $3.275

Savannah -- $3.35

Valdosta -- $3.296

Monday morning in Albany, some stations were a tick under $3.10 per gallon for regular-grade fuel. Prices as low as $3.049 were available to motorists who used loyalty cards or had club memberships to certain stations.

Albany on Monday again led the eight metropolitan statistical areas in Georgia that are averaged daily in the AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report. Albany barely averaged below $3.20, coming in at $3.199. That was a 5.2-cent drop in a week and 21.3-cent decline over the past month.

photo

Atlantic tropical storms could bring an end to declining retail gas prices, but with Bertha tracking off the East Coast there is no imminent threat to the oil-producing Gulf of Mexico and the refineries there. (National Hurricane Center graphic)

Compared to the same date a year ago, Albany motorists were paying 18.6 cents fewer cents per gallon on Monday.

That beat the Georgia state average of $3.392 and the national average of $3.50, as reported on the Fuel Gauge Report. Another organization that keeps close tabs on pump prices, GasBuddy.com, had the national average price Monday morning at $3.489 and listed Georgia’s average at $3.383.

For Georgia, both organizations noted about the same declines from last week (AAA, 2 cents; GasBuddy, 4.2 cents), last month (AAA, 18.1 cents; GasBuddy, 18.9 cents) and year-to-year (AAA, 19.8 cents; GasBuddy, 19.2 cents).

Similarly, AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report had the U.S. average down 2.3 cents from last week, 16.3 cents from last month and 11.7 cents from last year, while GasBuddy reported declines of 2 cents week to week, 16.9 cents from last month and 12.8 cents from last year.

AAA experts said the pump price drop may continue, but gave the idea of sub-$3 gas a hedged endorsement.

“Typically gasoline prices fluctuate in July and August, but for the most part, prices have steadily declined,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman for AAA — The Auto Club Group. “Oil prices decreased dramatically this week, so there’s no reason gas prices should go up any time soon.

“In fact, if these conditions continue, prices could eventually slip below $3 a gallon by the end of the year. However, unexpected refinery outages, a spike in oil prices, or the mere threat of a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico could cause gas prices to rise.”

GasBuddy experts were less optimistic that the slide would continue as the traditional summer driving season heads to its symbolic Labor Day weekend end.

“Beginning the month with the lowest pump prices since 2010 is a nice way to start August, but it’s unlikely that we’ll see gasoline production from coast to coast running as high in August as we’d seen during July,” GasBuddy.com Senior Petroleum Analyst Gregg Laskoski said. “In recent years we’ve seen August refinery utilization slip a bit below July numbers and if that happens we may see prices increase especially in areas where consumers are flocking to enjoy the remainder of the summer driving season.”

It doesn’t appear that the tropical storm season, which has been quiet since it opened June 1, will have an impact on gas prices anytime soon. Only the second named storm in the Atlantic Ocean so far this season, Bertha, was projected to reach hurricane strength Tuesday, but stay well off the East Coast as its traveled northward this week. The National Hurricane Center reported Monday that its forecasters expected no new tropical storms to form in the next five days.

The Atlantic region, however, is moving into what historically has been the most active portion season, which generally starts around Aug. 15, peaks around Sept. 10 and declines in late October, according to data from the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration.