By Kalea Hall
Valley residents are paying less at the pump this year compared to last.
Average prices in Youngs-town this week are also down from last week.
The average price for regular unleaded gas in Youngstown this week is $3.529 a gallon, compared with last year’s average of $3.585. Last week, prices averaged $3.571.
Ohio is below the national average of $3.61 per gallon, with the Northeast Ohio average at $3.463, according to AAA East Central.
“I think we will see this continue for the next two to three weeks,” said Gregg Laskoski, senior analyst for gasbuddy.com. “We may have a period where prices stay somewhat flat.”
Overall, the national average has gone down for the past 18 days. AAA predicted the retail price would continue to lower after Independence Day because of lower crude oil costs due to a stabilized situation in Iraq.
The average price for gas during the week of July 16, 2013, was $3.603.
AAA predicts the national average may continue to lower or stay the same.
AAA reports the price in 45 states and Washington, D.C., dropped over the past week, with the Midwest having the largest drop.
Cleveland-based economist George Zeller on Tuesday placed prices for U.S. light sweet crude falling below $100 a barrel for the first time since May. Brent crude oil fell to $105.69 per barrel, he said.
“While prices are falling, motorists can enjoy the price drops. But, we still have to remember that the price of oil, and subsequently the price of gasoline, is very volatile, and is very difficult to forecast accurately for the future,” Zeller said.
In addition to the crude oil prices coming down, Laskoski said wholesale gas prices are going down, which also affects retail prices.
Mike Kassem, owner of the Struthers-based independent gas station Morgan Oil on Lowellville Road, doesn’t see the price going up for the next month, but says pricing is hard to figure.
“I think it will go up in September,” Kassem said.
Kassem has been in the business for 20 years and said he is aggressive with his pricing and the way he buys. He buys from the company that has the best price. At times, he matches prices to remain competitive, which can cost him.
“The major brands will push prices low, and it puts a lot of pressure of local competitors large and small,” Laskoski said.
Kassem said the price could change by today depending on the street prices. His price for regular unleaded was $3.49 Tuesday.
“It is going to keep going down,” Kassem said. “I do try to keep as competitive as I can.”