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Gas prices on the decline

Troy resident Vanessa Tyner could breathe a sigh of relief as she filled up her gas tank Monday afternoon.

With gas prices reaching, at some stations, well above $4 per gallon during Hurricane Ike, Tyner said the $3.05 she paid at Murphy USA Monday was a much more manageable price.

“I work out of town, so it helps me a lot,” Tyner said.

In a time of national economic crisis, Phillip Webb, of Montgomery, said the money he’s not spending on fuel right now is helping his family budget.

“It’s really helped the budget a lot,” Webb said. “It’s nice to see a change, and I hope it stays that way.”

According to Alabama AAA Spokesman Clay Ingram, Webb’s wish just might come true.

“We’re going to see some pretty big drops over the next few weeks,” Ingram said. “Hopefully, we should see this downward trend from now until February, but you never know.”

Ingram said demand, the main driver of fuel prices, is typically down this time of year, but in a suffering economy, he said drivers seem to be cutting back even more.

And with fuel demand on the decline, Ingram said perhaps lower fuel prices will be one of the only benefits of economic crisis.

“That’s one of the few things to come out of this economic crisis we’re in,” Ingram said.

In the next few weeks, Ingram said prices should continue to drop below $3 per gallon for regular fuel, perhaps as low as $2.50.

“Before the hurricane, we were already in a downward trend,” Ingram said. “This is the time of year when prices drop naturally because our demand drops naturally.”

Demand, though a big factor, is not the only role-player in declining fuel prices.

Ingram said a weakened U.S. dollar has driven crude oil prices down internationally.

Though a falling economy is behind the weakened dollar and decreased demand, Ingram said it could make a turn for the worse.

“With the economy and OPEC potentially limiting production, you just never know what’s going to happen,” Ingram said. “It’s all the role of the dice.”

While dropping fuel prices are making a difference for some like Tyner and Webb, others said prices still need to keep declining before they can feel the benefits.

Carey Spencer, Tennesse, said prices are lower than he budgeted for when he left for his trip to Texas, but they still aren’t good enough yet.

“It hasn’t made any difference yet,” Spencer said as he filled his RV up at a local gas station Monday.