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Gas prices falling throughout region, nation

By Dave Scott
Beacon Journal staff writer

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Gas prices at the corner of South Union and East Market Streets in Akron were below $3 a gallon on Wednesday. (Karen Schiely/Akron Beacon Journal)

That jingling in your pocket on the way home for Christmas might be the change you saved on gasoline.

Prices have slipped below $3 a gallon at some stations, a price no one has seen in more than a year.

Some of the best prices, from a consumer standpoint, are in Stark County. GasBuddy.com listed 15 stations selling at $2.85 a gallon and all were in the Canton-Massillon area.

This price decrease might have staying power.

“I don’t think we will see prices go up until January, mid-January,” said Gregg Laskoski, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.

It’s not a gift from the nation’s petroleum companies, it’s a matter of supply and demand.

“According to the department of energy, we are seeing very significant numbers for gasoline inventory, really healthy numbers,” he said.

He explained that the refineries closed by Superstorm Sandy are back online and pumping gasoline into the market.

“The East Coast refineries that had been hit by Hurricane Sandy, they were operating at such a low level immediately after Sandy they were down as low as 58 percent capacity,” Laskoski said. “In the weeks when the gas inventory showed a significant increase, these East Coast refineries went from 66 percent capacity the week of Nov. 22 to 77 percent capacity the week ending Dec. 5 and then for the week ending Dec. 12 they were up to 79.9.”

And Ohio is special.

“We certainly see a significantly different decrease, more so in Ohio, than in any other parts of the country,” he said. “Nationwide I can tell you that the national average has fallen to $3.23 a gallon and that’s down 9 cents in the past week. But in Ohio you have an average price [Tuesday] of $3.08 and that price is down 20 cents a gallon just in the past week.”

Christina Polesovsky of the Ohio Petroleum Council called it “a great Christmas gift,” but not an unusual one.

Because demand usually slows this time of year, consumers usually see a price decrease in December.

She said crude oil prices are low, at around $87 a barrel, and production, including Ohio’s four refineries, is the third highest on record.

She called it a “trend throughout the country but Ohio seems to be bearing up a little bit better than the rest of the states.”

Drilling in Ohio has increased lately, but a spokesman for Marathon, owner of a refinery in Canton, said the effect on gasoline prices is not great.

“Maybe in a small way, probably very minimal, said Shane Pochard.

Dave Scott can be reached at 330-996-3577 or davescott@thebeaconjournal.com.