Saturday, September 02, 2006

TOP STORY >>Lower gas prices please drivers on holiday weekend

IN SHORT: Per gallon average more than 20 cents less than it was a month ago.

Leader staff writer

Unlike Labor Days past where gas prices have jumped to hit the last of the summer travelers, gasoline this holiday is down.
“We’re at $2.63 right now,” said one Jacksonville retailer Friday afternoon, “but it’s supposed to drop drastically when the next load comes in tonight or tomorrow.”

Gasoline prices have dropped more than 20 cents a gallon in the local area over the past month.

Statewide, the average price for a gallon of regular going into the Labor Day weekend was $2.70, but many local stations were at $2.63. A month ago the state average was $2.91, and more than one local station was as high as $2.99.

Nationally, the price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline was at $2.79 Friday morning, compared to $3 a month ago, and in New York gas was over the $3.25 mark at most stations a month ago.

Locally, Jacksonville stations come in at $2.63 per gallon, and Cabot is averaging $2.67 per gallon. Sherwood is also at $2.67 per gallon, while Beebe’s average price per gallon is $2.70.

One reason for the steady and welcomed decline has been a quiet hurricane season. Even Hurricane Ernesto turned out to be more of a lamb than a lion and workers have quickly returned to the oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico, sending the cost for crude oil down to under the $70 mark Thursday for the first time in about three months.

According to the American Automobile Association, the demand for gasoline has eased and refineries are switching over to less-expensive winter grade gasoline.

For Hog fans and others traveling in northwest Arkansas, the news is not as good as elsewhere in the state as that region is sporting the highest state average at $2.81 per gallon of unleaded gasoline, according to the AAA. Texarkana and Ft. Smith areas are the cheapest, sporting an average of $2.66. Little Rock, North Little Rock and the Pine Bluff region are averaging about $2.71.

Six states are still averaging over $3 per gallon. They are Connecticut at $3.20, Idaho at $3.01, Montana at $3.09, Nevada at $3.03, New York at $3.03 and Washington at $3.02.

In nearby states, Louisiana is averaging $2.75 per gallon, Missouri’s average is $2.60, Oklahoma is at $2.63 and Texas is at $2.66.

For the local information, 10 stations were surveyed in Jacksonville, nine in Cabot, eight in Sherwood and four in Beebe.