BRADENTON -- Gasoline prices have dipped below $3 throughout the Bradenton area, thanks to a plentiful supply of crude oil and the plunging price of a barrel of oil on the world market.
About 50 Bradenton-area stations were showing prices under $3 a gallon, according to gasbuddy.com, a website where consumers post the prices they find at the pump.
Late Wednesday, the average price per gallon in the Bradenton area was $3.028 a gallon.
The lowest local prices were $2.89 a gallon at Sam's Club, $2.90 at BJs, and $2.95 at several other places, according to gasbuddy.com.
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Brenda Ricchi was filling up at the RaceTrac at 111 12th Ave. E. at U.S. 301 on Wednesday afternoon.
"I think it's wonderful," she said of the $2.93-a-gallon price there.
Kevin Truax filled his Jeep at the Shell station on the corner of Manatee Avenue West and 59th Street West, where regular was selling for $2.99 a gallon.
"I am already used to it," Truax said of the sub-$3-a-gallon price. "It goes up and it comes down all the time. I am praying it goes lower."
The falling price of gas has helped bolster consumer confidence in the United States.
Consumer confidence rebounded strongly in October, hitting a seven-year high, the Associated Press reported.
U.S. crude prices fell to
$81 a barrel this week. As recently as July, crude oil prices were more than $30 a barrel higher.
And as recently as April, motorists were paying an average of $3.73 a gallon for gas in Florida.
Josh Carrasco, spokesman for AAA Auto Club, said the average price for a gallon of regular unleaded in the state of Florida is now $3 even, and even less in such major metropolitan areas as Tampa-St. Pete and Jacksonville.
"All indications are that gas prices will continue to fall until the end of the year," Carrasco said.
The lower prices are being driven by low demand and high oil production, he said.
Much of the stronger U.S. production can be attributed to the shale oil boom in North Dakota and Texas, he said.
AAA recently launched its fuel-price-finder website to help motorists locate the lowest prices in their communities.
James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee reporter, can be contacted at 941-745-7053 or on Twitter @jajones1.