MANATEE — Motorists heading to Manatee County gas pumps are finding the cheapest August gas prices since 2010.
On Aug. 1, 2010, the national average price was $2.74. Since that time, average prices on Aug. 1 ranged from $3.52 in 2012, to $3.71 in 2011. The current average of $3.50 is 3 cents cheaper than last week and the discount at the pump should continue in the near future, officials project.
"Typically gasoline prices fluctuate in July and August, but for the most part, prices have steadily declined," said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA - The Auto Club Group. "Oil prices decreased dramatically this week, so there's no reason gas prices should go up any time soon. In fact, if these conditions continue, prices could eventually slip below $3 a gallon by the end of the year. However, unexpected refinery outages, a spike in oil prices, or the mere threat of a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico could cause gas prices to rise."
Oil prices plummeted last week. The price for a barrel of WTI settled at 97.88 on the NYMEX Friday or $4.21 less compared with a week ago. That was the biggest weekly decline in seven months, and the lowest settlement since February. Refineries are running at record levels and there is more than enough gasoline in the market, which has helped bring down prices despite multiple overseas conflicts.
The current average price for a gallon of regular unleaded in Florida is $3.41. That is 5 cents lower than last week and the cheapest price since February.
Bradenton's average gas price Sunday was $3.22 per gallon, easily the lowest in Manatee County, compared with $3.74 in Longboat Key.
In Georgia, the average price of $3.40 is 3 cents under last week and the cheapest price since March. Tennessee's average price of $3.27 is also the cheapest price since March and 4 cents less than last week