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Gas breaks the below-$2 barrier in South Sound

Less than three months after retail gasoline prices at some stations fell below $3 a gallon in the South Sound, gasoline Thursday fell below $2 a gallon at two South Sound service stations.

The APP station at 3224 South Tacoma Way, which was the first of several stations that posted sub-$3 prices Oct. 9, again led the way with a posted price of $1.99 for unleaded regular in Tacoma. Another APP station at 1306 Fones Road SE in Olympia matched that price.

Lance Elliott of Lakewood and his wife visited the South Tacoma Way station Thursday afternoon after spotting the low price on a phone application published by TacomaGasPrices.com. They topped off their van with nearly 14 gallons of gasoline priced at a total of $27.35. Elliott said he would receive an additional 2 percent discount through the Visa card he used for the purchase.

A third APP station at 3819 192nd Ave. E. in Sumner also was on the low price list published by the website with a per gallon price of $2.04. Eight other Tacoma-area stations were selling gasoline Thursday morning for less than $2.10 a gallon.

The sub-$2 price was a continuation of a trend that began in summer when average gasoline prices in the Tacoma area peaked at $4.03 a gallon.

Average prices for regular were $2.44 a gallon in Pierce County Thursday morning. That price was almost a cent less than they were Wednesday and 9 cents below a week ago. On Dec. 8, the average price of a gallon of fuel in Tacoma was $2.96 a gallon. A year ago, the average price of fuel was 98 cents more a gallon.

Joanna Rust of Tacoma filled her car for $1.99 a gallon at the South Tacoma station Thursday afternoon.

“I watch the prices here,” she said. “They’re usually the first to go up if prices are rising and the first to go down when prices are falling.”

The APP stations are owned by Tacoma’s Associated Petroleum Products, one of the state’s largest petroleum distributors.

The average Pierce County gasoline prices hasn’t been as low since early summer of 2009.

In Federal Way, the least expensive gasoline was available Thursday at Costco, 35100 Enchanted Parkway S. The Costco price was $2.12 a gallon.

At a state average price of $2.42 a gallon, Washington has the dubious honor of having the ninth most expensive gasoline prices in the country. Eight states have average prices in early January of less than $2 a gallon. Missouri leads the list with an average gasoline price of $1.80 a gallon. Hawaii has the United States’ highest average at $3.47 a gallon.

The steep gasoline price drop is fueled by the descent of crude oil prices below $50 a barrel. West Texas Intermediate crude oil, one of the benchmark crude varieties, was selling for $48.65 a barrel Thursday.

A surplus of crude is propelling prices lower as Saudi Arabia, one of the world’s largest oil producers, says it won’t reduce crude production in light of lower demand and higher production from other sources such as the U.S.

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