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Gas prices continue to remain low

122218_gas_prices

Desmond Harris pays for his gas Thursday at Sam's Xpress Car Wash on North Wesleyan Boulevard.

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BY WILLIAM F. WEST
Staff Writer

Saturday, December 22, 2018

The Grinch is nowhere to be found in the Twin Counties as far as having any influence on what motorists are paying for gas during the Yuletide season.

“Santa is giving us gift, if you will, of lower gas prices,” N.C. State University economics professor Michael Walden said.

Local stations were offering regular unleaded for anywhere from $2.119 to $2.199, with Walden attributing the lower prices to plenty of supply and at the same time lower demand.

Bobby Hamm welcomed the relief at the pumps on Friday

“I mean, it’s a whole lot better than what it was — a whole lot better,” he said.

Hamm, 41, originally from Rocky Mount, is a roofer who lives in Roanoke Rapids. Hamm and a co-worker paid $2.189 a gallon for $25 worth of regular unleaded on Friday. That topped the tank of the co-worker’s 2000 Dodge Neon at the Speedway convenience store off East Raleigh Boulevard.

Hamm and his co-worker carpool approximately 3½ hours to Atlantic Beach, where they’re continuing to make repairs to properties in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew.

“Oh man, I’ve got probably six months work down there already,” Hamm said. “I would love to work here at home, but there’s no work here.”

Basoline costs are a large part of his budget, Hamm said.

“I could spend up to $300 plus a week, easily,” he said, noting his work truck stays at the beach.

Perhaps the busiest station on Friday in Rocky Mount was at Sam’s Club, where members could pay $2.119 a gallon for regular unleaded and $2.639 a gallon for diesel fuel.

Tony Foote, 54, of Rocky Mount who is a general contractor, was refilling his almost empty, approximately decade-old diesel-powered Ford Super Duty truck.

“It’s great,” Foote said of the lower prices as he paid $86 for nearly 33 gallons.

Foote said his business has many local jobs and also has jobs as far away as in Raleigh and in Beaufort County.

“We spend a lot of money on fuel, so a small savings per gallon reflects in a big number at the end of the year,” he said.

Another elated motorist on Friday was Violet Davis, 55, of Sharpsburg, who works as a production operator at Pfizer.

“It’s wonderful,” Davis said as she paid $2.259 a gallon for slightly more than $30 worth of regular unleaded at the Sam’s Express Car Wash off Wesleyan Boulevard, which flies the Mobil flag.

Many motorists were at the pumps Friday at the Circle K convenience store off Sunset Avenue, including Tameka Sledge, 43, of Whitakers, who’s an instructor at Nash Community College.

Sledge was paying $2.199 a gallon for regular unleaded at the store, which flies the BP flag.

“Honestly, I don’t look at the prices. I know I’ve got to have it, so I just get it,” Sledge said with a chuckle.

At the same time, Sledge said of the lower prices, “I’m not complaining, no.”

Sledge put slightly more than $43 worth of fuel into the GMC Acadia sport utility vehicle she was driving.

Walden said the price of oil, which is behind the price of gasoline, has been falling in recent months. He said the reason can be traced back to a change made during the middle of the year by Russia and Saudi Arabia.

Walden said both nations had cut their supply because they weren’t happy with where oil prices had fallen to approximately a year or a year and a half ago.

He said both nations however, were eventually motivated to sell more as prices increased.

“So we’re in a position now where we’ve had a good supply coming in from the major producers in the world, including now of course, the U.S.,” he said, noting America is now an oil exporter.

Walden said demand for gas is down because there’s a decrease in driving near the end of the year because of the colder temperatures and shorter days of sunlight.

Additionally, he said there is some sense, at least among economists, that although the U.S. isn’t going into a recession, there’s evidence of a weakening in the economy, with the auto and housing markets slowing.

Overall, Walden said he can only speculate whether the lower prices at the pumps are going to continue.

He said the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries wanted to pull back on supply, although he noted Russia hasn’t weighed in yet with an opinion.

“But I think that we may see some upward drift in prices in the next two or three or four months,” he said.

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