Gas Prices Continue to Drop Around Country

Increased supplies and a drop in seasonal demand helped push gasoline prices down in the past month

Nov. 19--Increased supplies and a drop in seasonal demand helped push gasoline prices down in the past month, with the pump price at some Santa Fe stations falling below $3 a gallon.

As of Monday, Murphy Express at 5301 Soleras Drive, on the far southwest end of Santa Fe, was selling self-service regular gasoline for $2.769 a gallon.

But several stations around town were selling it at $2.999 a gallon this week -- for example, at the combination Phillips 66/Burger King at the corner of St. Francis Drive and West Alameda Street.

Peerless Tires, 3010 Cerrillos Road, traditionally has had among Santa Fe's lowest gasoline prices. But this week, it was selling for $3.089 there.

The most frequently cited price in town this week is $3.099 a gallon -- at the Allsup's Convenience Stores at 305 N. Guadalupe St. and 650 Cerrillos Road, the Giant stations at 1009 St. Francis Drive and 2691 Sawmill Road, and the Brewer/Chevron station at 1010 S. St. Francis Drive.

Charlie Brewer, head of Brewer Oil Co., which supplies gasoline to commercial customers and 37 retail stations, said the use of fracking (hydraulic fracturing), horizontal-drilling techniques and new pipelines have increased the domestic petroleum supplies available, but he's not sure what will happen next.

"The last two and a half years, I've seen things I've never seen before in the industry, and it's unpredictable," he said. "I gave up trying to figure out what it's going to do next. ...

"It's really fascinating to me to read about it," he said, "but there's such a variation in prices it's hard for us to figure out where to buy fuel everyday because there's such a huge price differential."

The American Automobile Association says the price of petroleum is falling in every state in the union.

Nationally, as of last week, the average price in the United States was $3.19 a gallon -- down from $3.22 a week ago, $3.44 this time a year ago and $4.11, the all time high in July 2008.

New Mexico's statewide average price last week, according to the AAA, was $3.03 -- down from $3.07 a week earlier, $3.38 this time a year ago and $4.08, the all-time high price in July 2008.

Gasoline in New Mexico costs less than in two of the three contiguous states -- $3.15 in Arizona and $3.22 in Colorado. Only Texas has a lower average price of $2.95.

Santa Fe's average price last week was $2.96 per gallon -- higher than Albuquerque at $2.92 and Las Cruces at $2.95.

According to AAA, the average price of gasoline has fallen below $3 a gallon in six states -- Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas. Weekly declines have been most dramatic in the Midwest and Great Plains states where gasoline demand remains weak and supplies comfortable.

The nation's highest average gasoline price, according to gasbuddy.com, is $3.953 a gallon in Hawaii, followed by $3.65 in Alaska, $3.564 in Connecticut, $3.549 in California and $3.553 in New York.

"Although not below the $3 per gallon mark, New Mexicans are still enjoying among the top ten cheapest statewide gas price averages in the country," said Doug Shupe, AAA's spokesman for Texas and New Mexico. "The savings at the pumps will certainly benefit people who are planning to take road trips to spend the upcoming holiday season with friends, family and loved ones."

Contact Tom Sharpe at 986-3080 or tsharpe@sfnewmexican.com.

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