Gasoline Prices Lowest Since January 2000; Below $1 Per Gallon in Some Cities
Gasoline prices on Oct. 15 were below $1 a gallon at some U.S. service stations despite heavy air strikes on Afghanistan and the risk of a disruption of oil exports from the Middle East.Falling pump prices are attributed to a decline in demand for fuel since the attacks that has allowed once scant supplies to grow back to normal levels, according to energy experts.The national average price has fallen 22 cents a gallon since the Sept. 11 hijackings to just under $1.31 a gallon -- the lowest since the week of Jan. 17, 2000, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) said on Oct. 15.The West Coast continued to have the most expensive gasoline in the nation, with prices in the region falling 3.3 cents a gallon to $1.544.San Francisco maintained the dubious distinction of holding the top spot among major cities in fuel costs, although gasoline prices did fall 2.7 cents to $1.738 a gallon.Motorists in the lower Atlantic states again had, on average, the least expensive fuel of any region. Prices in that region were down 4.1 cents to $1.209 a gallon.The pump price decline contrasts sharply with isolated incidents of price gouging on Sept. 11 that saw some stations charging $5 or more a gallon.The slide has been a bittersweet surprise for many American motorists who had been expecting the jump in fuel prices that normally accompanies military conflict, particularly near the oil-rich countries of the Middle East.A sputtering economy and fears of recession are expected to continue to cut into discretionary consumer spending, including travel, despite some indications of life returning to normal, according to economic analysts.Current national average fuel costs are still far from the $1-per-gallon mark breached in some cities. The last time gasoline averaged below $1 at the national level was during the week of March 15, 1999.The latest national pump price is down 23 cents from a year ago, based on the Energy Information Administration's weekly survey of more than 800 service stations.The report also showed petrol prices in New York City down 2.4 cents to $1.403; down 8.8 cents in Chicago to $1.429; and down 3.6 cents in Los Angeles to $1.427.Meanwhile, the nationwide price for diesel fuel fell 1.8 cents to $1.353 a gallon, down 32 cents from a year ago and the lowest level since early August.Truckers on the West Coast paid the most for diesel fuel at $1.445 a gallon, up 0.2 cents. The lower Atlantic states had the cheapest diesel at $1.269 a gallon, down 1.2 cents.