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Gas prices decline slightly despite higher crude

Lee Herald Favicon 16 Gas prices are starting to fall slightly as December begins and demand finally begins to fall, but the picture of what the future at the pump holds is still murky.

According to the American Automobile Association, the national average fell below $2.50 for the first time in a month to fall to $2.48 per gallon on Monday. The state average on Tuesday sits at $2.43 per gallon, down three cents from a week ago.

The average in Lee County fell two cents to $2.40 per gallon, while Naples dropped a penny to $2.51, just a touch above where it was a month ago.

“Cheaper winter gas prices are being seen for the bulk of the country as gasoline demand hits the lowest mark since February,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “On the week, 90 percent of states saw their gas price average drop – some even by double digits.”

But oil prices are still putting a wrench in things. After approaching $60 per barrel last week ahead of a meeting by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and other non-members about continued production cuts, crude still hovers in the upper-$50 range. On Thursday, the cartel and non-member nations including Russia and Nigeria agreed to continue production cuts – first announced a year ago – through the end of 2018. The current agreement was set to expire in March.

“Gas prices have been falling in recent weeks, but it has been a slow drip,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Oil prices are at their highest point of the year, preventing the typical seasonal plunge at the pump. Any strong gains in oil this week should push pump prices higher. However, the overall story this month should be lower gas prices, as demand declines. That’s because Americans drive less in the winter due to shorter days and cooler weather.”

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