South Sound gas prices following national average downward

Average gas prices in the South Sound fell some eight cents in the last week, but Puget Sound gas prices remain far above the national average.

The average price for a gallon of unleaded regular gas in the Tacoma area Friday was $3.65 a gallon according to The nationwide average for a gallon was $3.34, according to the same source.

If this year follows the typical gasoline price pattern, gasoline prices will continue to fall until shortly before Christmas when they will reach their yearly lows. Prices begin rising in the new year before peaking about Memorial Day in most years. That pattern can be altered by supply disruptions caused by refinery fires and shutdowns, crises in overseas oil-producing countries or economic conditions that cause businesses and individuals to increase or cut back on highway travel.

The South Sound gas price decline began more than a month ago when the average cost of a gallon of unleaded was $3.81 a gallon.

The price of gasoline this year is below where it was at this time last year when the average South Sound price was nearly $3.73 a gallon.

Gas price analysts are predicting the winter low prices could drop to below $3 a gallon in some 30 states. In Springfield, Missouri, for instance, some stations are already selling gas for less than $3.

South Carolina’s average gas price, $3.09 a gallon, is the lowest in the country. The price in Hawaii, where all petroleum has to be shipped in, gas is priced at $4.21 a gallon, the highest in the U.S. Washington prices are the nation’s third highest with a state average of $3.72 a gallon.

West Coast gasoline prices typically are higher than the national average in part because the network of pipelines that supplies gas to other parts of the country doesn’t reach the West Coast, restricting competition. High gas taxes also mean high pump prices in Washington. The Evergreen State’s per gallon tax at 37.5 cents a gallon is the second highest in the country.

Though average South Sound prices are much higher than the national average, bargain hunters can find gas in the Tacoma area near the national average price. Seven stations, reports, are selling gas in the Tacoma area for $3.36 a gallon. Those include two APP stations, two ARCOs, a Fred Meyer, one Shell station and one Costco.

In Olympia, the APP station at 1306 Fones Rd. SE was the cheapest in Thurston County at $3.36 a gallon. In Federal Way, the least expensive fuel, $3.45 a gallon, was available at a 76 station at 33101 Pacific Hwy S.