Gas prices drop below $3

Published 10:55 pm Thursday, June 28, 2012

By Whitley Kilcrease

With the Fourth of July holiday right around the corner, many motorists are concerned about the impact their vacations or holiday activities will have on their wallet

But there is good news at the gas pump. Prices declined this week across Alabama, with some areas such as Troy seeing rates below $3 per gallon. Prices haven’t been that low since February 2011.

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“I took a picture because I couldn’t believe it,” Tatiannah Clarke, a Troy student from Atlanta, said as she pumped gas at Murphy USA in front of Walmart. “ I usually come here for gas because of the low prices.”

Bob Mann, from Conway, Ark., was traveling home from a family vacation in Jacksonville, Fla. when he decided to stop in Troy to fill up his tank.

“This is the cheapest we’ve seen since we left home and started coming back,” Mann said. “We were ready for a pit stop anyway, and here gas is under $3. Right when you enter Florida it’s still $3.39.”

At press time Thursday, Z-Tec, CITGO (formerly Horizon) and Murphy USA, all on U.S. Highway 231 South, boasted the lowest gas prices at $2.97 per gallon while Pinckard’s on the Elba Highway was close behind at $2.99. Kangaroo and Z-Tec on U.S. Highway 231 North were reported to be $3.02 Thursday morning but had fallen to $2.98 by 3:00 p.m.

According to Michael Green, manager for AAA Public Relations with expertise in gas prices, said rates have been falling at the pumps because the price for crude oil per barrel has decreased in recent months. The current price is $78.30 per barrel. The national high for crude oil was in April, only two months ago, at prices exceeding $105 per barrel.

The national record high at the pumps this year was on April 6 at $3.94 per gallon while the high on record for Alabama was on April 7 at $3.81 per gallon.

However, Green said the main factor in falling or rising gas prices is the state of the economy. He said that if the economy continues to “limp along,” prices could continue to drop, or at least remain steady.

“Right now the state average for Alabama is $3.05 per gallon,” Green said. “Given the fact that gas prices have dropped one cent per day recently, there’s a good chance we’ll see prices in many areas below $3 per gallon by Independence Day weekend.”

Green also said that prices are “declining because of worldwide economic concerns” such as the financial crisis occurring in Europe and conflicts in the Middle East.

“U.S. drivers are benefiting from economic concerns in Europe,” Green said. “However, if there’s a huge crisis in the Middle East tomorrow, we would see prices rise.”

Alabama, along with Mississippi and Tennessee, is currently in a race to become the second state in the nation to drop its average below $3 per gallon. On Wednesday, Alabama’s average was tied with Tennessee at $3.05 per gallon while Mississippi was slightly lower at $3.03 per gallon.

South Carolina was the first state to drop its average below $3 per gallon with its current average at $2.96 per gallon. These states are well below the national average, which on Thursday was reported at $3.37 per gallon.

“Gas prices are extremely volatile and impossible to predict, but if trends continue, we could see prices continue to drop,” Green said. “This is great news at the height of driving season.”

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