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Gas prices take a rare spring dip


Have you been keeping an eye on the price of gasoline in the last few weeks?  Cheryl Parker with AAA in Cincinnati has been doing just that.

"Yeah, they've declined," she said.  "For the first time in ten years we've seen a decline in gas prices in the month of March.  It's very unusual."

Definitely not the norm for this time of year

Gas prices usually start heading up in the spring, but they decreased last month and now average about 30 cents per gallon less than a year ago.  

The national average as of Monday was $3.63 and the Cincinnati average was $3.53.  

What's driving the drop?

Parker says an increase in refinery production and lower oils prices in early March combined to provide the rare fall in prices.  AAA notes that crude oil is about $6 less per barrel than a year ago, while refinery utilization has increased by about five percent since early March (according to the federal Energy Information Administration).

AAA says those same factors, cheap oil and more refining, should work together to keep April gas prices less expensive than in recent years.

Still a big ouch

But Parker acknowledges you have to keep the recent decline in perspective.  Gasoline is still expensive for a lot of American motorists.

"You're still talking gas prices in the $3.50 range, $3.60 (nationally), and as people are traveling they still have to budget for that," she said.  "It's not like it used to be when we could say it's $2 or so."

So, for now, it's welcome break from rising gas prices, or as Parker calls it "this spring surprise."