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Hagerstown drivers get a break on gasoline prices

June 11, 2004|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

HAGERSTOWN

shappell@herald-mail.com

In a year in which gasoline prices often have been on the rise, area motorists experienced a break at the pumps over the last two weeks.

But while prices in the Hagerstown area have been on the decline, that is not the case for the rest of the state or nationally, experts say.

The average price in the Hagerstown area for a gallon of regular, unleaded gas (self-serve) was listed at $1.95 Wednesday, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic. That is down 8 cents from the $2.03 record high set on May 29, AAA said.

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Several stations in Hagerstown, including ones on Pennsylvania Avenue and Dual Highway, dropped under the $1.90 mark and have remained there for several days.

The price drop occurred at a far greater pace than the national and state averages, which were still above $2 Wednesday.

AAA spokeswoman Amanda Knittle said the price per barrel of crude oil dropped following the June 3 announcement by OPEC that it would raise its output next month. Knittle called Hagerstown's larger decrease "an anomaly" and was unable to explain the reasons behind it.

Peter Horrigan, president of the Mid-Atlantic Petroleum Distributors Association, said Thursday that price wars between local gas stations are a likely source of the price decrease.

"Somebody just tries to get an advantage and the rest of the owners say, 'I don't think so,'" Horrigan said.

Scott Hahn, one of the owners of the family-run Hahns Amoco in Cavetown, said many stations had to adjust gas prices when other area retailers dropped prices by 10 cents last weekend.

Patrons pumping gas at Pennsylvania Avenue Exxon on Wednesday said the sudden price drop was a pleasant surprise. They said there's no reason to celebrate, though, because the price is significantly higher than it was a year ago.

"I still pay $36 to fill my van, so it's not making that much of a difference," said Karen Flohr of Hagerstown.

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