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View Count: 101 |  Publish Date: July 04, 2013
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Gasoline prices relax for summer
Jonathan Fahey, Associated PressPosted: Thursday, July 4, 2013, 1:08 AM
NEW YORK - Gasoline prices are on a summer slide, giving U.S. drivers a break as they set out for the beach and other vacation spots for the Fourth of July weekend.
The national average for a gallon has fallen for 21 days straight and is now below $3.50 for the first time since February. The reason: Oil prices have been relatively stable, and refineries are turning out more gasoline after completing springtime maintenance.
The drop may be interrupted temporarily because oil prices spiked Wednesday on fears that the turmoil in Egypt would disrupt the flow of crude in the Mideast. Analysts, however, dont expect a sharp increase at the pump, because global oil supplies are ample and U.S. refineries are producing plenty of gas.
The national average price of a gallon is $3.48, according to AAA, OPIS and Wright Express. That is 16 cents below its post-Memorial Day high of $3.64 on June 10.
AAA said that in Southeastern Pennsylvania the average was $3.52 Wednesday, down three cents in the last week, while in South Jersey, where the tax is less, the average was $3.32 per gallon.
Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at GasBuddy.com, predicted the national average will hover between $3.30 and $3.60 for the rest of the summer. That would be somewhat lower than the last two summers, when gasoline prices spent part of the season above $3.70 per gallon.
Oil prices shot up Wednesday above $101 per barrel, the highest since May 2012, as the crisis in Egypt deepened. Egypt is not a major oil producer but controls the Suez Canal, a major shipping lane for Middle Eastern crude.
This years early summer decline, while welcome, is smaller than the seasonal drops of the last two years, when gas prices also fell between Memorial Day and Independence Day. Gasoline is 15 cents more expensive than it was last year at this time.
Gas prices typically rise in late winter or early spring when refineries perform maintenance and switch from making winter gasoline blends to the more complex summer blends required for clean-air rules. When the nations refineries arent operating at full strength, supplies drop and prices rise. Once the maintenance is done, output rises and prices fall.
When refineries go down it can create immediate and severe havoc, Kloza said. Its a very shallow distribution system, quick to fill and quick to empty.
Thats what happened in the Midwest earlier this year. A fire broke out at a Marathon refinery in Detroit in late April while maintenance was underway at an Exxon Mobil refinery in Joliet, Ill., and a BP refinery in Whiting, Ind.
Prices soared above $4 per gallon in parts of Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin and Indiana. As the refineries recovered, prices quickly fell. By July 3, Ohio prices were $3.33.
Jonathan FaheyAssociated Press #post2 .pw-icon.ra1-pw-icon-reddit {background: url() 0px 0px no-repeat !important;width: 60px !important;height: 20px !important;margin-right:8px;}#post2 .pw-icon.ra1-pw-icon-email {background: url() 0px 0px no-repeat !important;width: 71px !important;height: 28px !important;}0comments

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Time: 13:5  |  News Code: 294541  |  Site: philly.com
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