Gas prices continue slide

Oil hits its lowest cost since last December

Pessimistic economic news across the globe caused the price of a barrel of oil to drop to its lowest point of the year, according to officials with AAA Auto Club Group.

Oil prices settled Friday, May 11, on the New York Mercantile Exchange at $96.13 a barrel, which was $2.36 less than the week prior. The cost of a barrel of oil has not been so low since December 2011.

The price of crude oil fell again to $94.17 per barrel Monday, in NYMEX’s crude futures market, according to Bloomberg.com.

AAA Spokeswoman Jessica Brady noted manufacturing numbers and economic growth slowed more than forecast for April in countries like China, India, and across Europe. She said the reports caused global fuel demand to decrease at a time when supply is more than ample.

Brady pointed out that U.S. oil stockpiles are at their highest level in 21 years, according to the U.S. Energy Department, and output from OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) remains at elevated levels.

“As a result of weakened demand, retail gas prices are expected to decrease throughout the week and continue May’s downward trend in pump prices,” said Brady. “Motorists are paying almost 30 cents less for a gallon of gas nationwide, than they did this time last year.”

The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported last week in its updated Short-Term Energy Outlook that gas prices may have peaked for the 2012 calendar year. The forecast notes a leveling of average gas prices through December 2013, with national averages between about $3.50 per gallon and $3.80 per gallon for regular unleaded gas.

Monday’s national average remained around $3.72 per gallon of regular unleaded from the prior day, which is 18-cents cheaper than a month ago, according to AAA’s Fuel Gauge Report.

The report revealed that Georgia now is falling in line with other southern states that typically have cheaper gas. The state averaged $3.52 per gallon Monday for regular unleaded gas, just three cents more than consumers paid on average in Alabama and five cents more than paid in Tennessee.

South Carolina was one of the states whose residents paid the least for regular unleaded gas, at $3.43 per gallon Monday. California residents paid nearly a dollar more, at $4.34 per gallon.