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Customers feeling less pain at pump
Tony Pritchett of Martinsville fills up his Lexus on Monday at The Pantry in Collinsville. (Bulletin photo by Paul Collins)
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
By PAUL COLLINS - Bulletin Staff Writer
Falling gas prices had area consumers smiling on Monday.
“I’m loving it,” Tony Pritchett of Martinsville said Monday afternoon as he pumped $2.99-a-gallon regular gasoline into his Lexus.
“If it stays that low, I’m loving it,” he said at The Pantry, at 1560 Virginia Ave.
Pritchett estimated that he is saving a total of about $150 a week on gasoline for his three vehicles — two cars and an SUV — from the higher gas prices of several months ago.
At a nearby pump, customer James Draper of Martinsville said of the current gas prices, “I’m so happy they are going down. I work in Danville. I commute almost every day. It was really expensive.”
He figures the lower gas prices are saving him close to $100 a month compared with what he was paying several months ago.
Chad Hopkins, assistant manager at The Pantry, said gas prices went down 4 cents the middle of last week.
Steve Wallace, owner of Wallace Exxon at 3021 Virginia Ave., Collinsville, said gas prices have fallen about 30 cents a gallon in the last few weeks. On Monday, regular was $2.899 a gallon, a dollar a gallon less than $3.89 a gallon in April.
“I think it will keep trending down until the election ends,” he said, mentioning President Obama.
Wallace said he believes another factor in the decline in gasoline prices is that crude oil prices have declined.
“It’s helped my business tremendously,” he said of the decline in gasoline prices.
Wallace Exxon customer Sharon Bower of Bassett was pleased with the lower gas prices. “I think it’s better,” she said. She added, “I don’t do much traveling. I’m not working right now.”
Another customer, Cindy Anderson of Bassett, said she’s spending much less for gasoline. “It’s a lot better coming down,” she said.
According to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report:
• Nationally, regular averaged $3.411 Monday, $3.420 Sunday, $3.505 a week ago, $3.653 a month ago and $3.587 a year ago. The highest recorded average price for regular unleaded was $4.114 on July 17, 2008.
• In Virginia, regular averaged $3.207 Monday, $3.216 Sunday, $3.274 a week ago, $3.456 a month ago and $3.480 a year ago. The highest recorded average price for regular unleaded was $4.010 on July 17, 2008.
According to AAA Fuel Price Finder, the Martinsville area average was $2.964 a gallon Monday, $3.051 last week, $3.237 last month, $3.000 six months ago and $3.328 last year.
Windy VanCuren, public affairs specialist at AAA Mid-Atlantic, said of the decline in gasoline prices, “It all boils down to crude oil prices have been dropping for a variety of reasons.” They include the debt crisis in Greece and other parts of Europe; poor economic data on U.S. home sales, Chinese manufacturing and U.S. jobless claims; coupled with the fact the U.S. dollar has gained a little strength.
She said there has been speculation that another factor is the upcoming U.S. presidential election, but there’s no proof of that. The main reason is the decline in crude oil prices, she said.
There’s “no perfect crystal ball,” VanCuren said when asked to forecast gasoline prices, but barring such things as a hurricane or interruption in OPEC petroleum supply, gasoline prices should continue to decline in the summer and fall.
Depending on where one lives, there’s a good chance gasoline prices may decline between 5 and 20 cents before the July Fourth holiday, VanCuren said.
She said the U.S. Energy Information Administration is indicating that crude oil prices will settle between $70 and $76 a barrel in coming weeks. Crude oil closed Monday at $79.21 a barrel, she said.