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Thursday, Feb 11, 2016

Is $3 gas (or less) in sight?


Gas prices in the Tampa Bay region have fallen enough to make $4 a gallon seem like a distant nightmare.

Following a long, steady decline, the average price of a gallon of unleaded has dipped below $3 per gallon at some area stations for customers who are willing to pay cash, according to market trackers.

Currently, the average stands at $3.15, said AAA spokeswoman Jessica Brady.

"If trends continue as they have with retail gas prices falling an average of 5 cents a week," she said, "Tampa Bay could see the metro average drop below $3 a gallon by mid July."

That slide could continue well into the heaviest driving season of the summer.

Gas prices over the last six months resemble a mountain peak, starting at about $3 per gallon last December, then rising to just under $4 per gallon in April, then falling again in a near straight line by 5 cents a week.

The core reason is a long slide in oil prices to below $80 per barrel, a price not seen in almost 10 months, amid continued signs the economy remains in a weak recovery phase.

Also, job growth remains minimal, Brady said, and the manufacturing pace continues to ease in two of the largest oil-consuming regions — China and Europe.

rmullins@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7919

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