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By NATHAN GREGORY
For the first time in 16 months, the average price for a gallon of gas in Mississippi is below $3. According to state and national reports, the steady decrease at the pumps over the past two months is expected to continue throughout the summer, meaning relief for motorists.
According to MississippiGasPrices.com, the Mississippi state average per gallon is $2.99 â€” nearly 40 cents cheaper than the national average of $3.389. This is in contrast to where the averages were in April just before the decline began; the statewide average in early April was nearly $3.80 while the national average was $3.92. At this time last year, the statewide average was $3.358 â€” 20 cents below the $3.558 national average.
Three gas stations in Starkville are reporting $2.99 per regular gallon of gas: the Chevron station on the corner of Miss. Highway 12 and Stark Road, the Shell station at the intersection of Miss. Highway 12 and Airport Road and Dees Oil at Miss. Highway 182 and D.L. Conner Drive. The highest price in town according to the listing on MississippiGasPrices.com is at Strange Brew, where motorists are paying $3.09 for a gallon of regular gas.
The lowest reported price in the state, $2.62, is at a Pure station in Laurel, while the Local Express station in Hernando is reporting the highest price in the state at $3.49.
Compared to the two other cities in the Golden Triangle, one station out of Columbus is reported to have regular gas at $2.98 per gallon, with the most expensive report being $3.17. The lowest price reported in West Point is $3.05.
Of the three major university cities, gas is slightly cheaper in Starkville than Oxford, but Hattiesburgâ€™s prices are the most driver-friendly. The lowest reported price from Oxford is $3.07, but even the most expensive gas in Hattiesburg, $2.97, is less than the lowest price in Starkville. The lowest report coming from Hattiesburg is $2.85 per gallon.
Nationally, the Associated Press reports that the price of oil jumped $7.27 from $77.69 a barrel on Thursday to $84.96 on Friday. Thursdayâ€™s price was an eight-month low â€” $31 lower than a barrelâ€™s highest cost of the year in February of $109.
Forbes contributor and hedge fund analyst Jack Wei said in a report that on the national front, oil production levels are up.
â€śAccording to established news outlets, domestic oil production has risen 12 percent since 2008, far outpacing the growth in demand, which has effectively been flat,â€ť Wei said.
A report by the International Business Times says concerns about a weak global economy will lead to reduced petroleum demand has caused a decrease in crude oil prices.
In an Association for Convenience and Petroleum Retailing report, Automobile Association of America spokesperson Michael Green said lower prices should be expected throughout the summer and forecasted that 42.3 million drivers hitting the road next week for the Independence Day Holiday â€” the largest number in a decade.
â€śDeclining gasoline prices are motivating a lot of people to get on the road,â€ť Green said. â€śAnd because the holiday is on a Wednesday, a lot of people are planning to take off the entire week.â€ť
Starkville resident Jesse James Simpson said he travels back and forth from here to Indianola to hunt and fish and has noticed that it takes noticeably less to fill his tank now than several months ago.
â€śThe prices really came down a lot since three months ago,â€ť Simpson said. â€śIâ€™ve got a 20-gallon tank. Three months ago it would take me almost $45 to fill up. Now I can fill it up with $30.â€ť