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Drivers can be thankful for lower pump prices

November 23, 2004|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

Gas prices are coming down almost one month after hitting a record high in the Hagerstown area, according to AAA.

The Hagerstown area experienced a high for the average price of a gallon of regular, unleaded gas on Oct. 27, when the price reached $2.039, said Amanda Knittle, spokeswoman for AAA Mid-Atlantic in Towson, Md. AAA's records for Hagerstown date back to 1977, she said.

Prices had risen due to hurricane damage, unrest in the Middle East and a strike by oil industry workers in Nigeria, an OPEC nation, Knittle said in mid-October.

That strike ended and another one planned in Nigeria was canceled, said Knittle, citing a BBC News Web site story.

A lot of oil refineries and distribution systems damaged by hurricanes, such as Hurricane Ivan, have been repaired, she said.

Having the refinery and distribution systems back online contributed to the recent price decrease, Knittle said.

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Last Friday, the average price in Hagerstown was $1.97 per gallon, according to AAA.

A drive around the Hagerstown area on Monday showed prices for regular unleaded ranged from $1.87 at the Sunoco on South Potomac Street to $1.95 at the Shell station down the road.

Buying gas at the Sheetz at Huyetts Crossroads, Judy Koontz noticed the price of gas had come down a little recently.

Koontz, 56, of Hagerstown, wanted it to come down even more, to the $1.51 per gallon price for regular unleaded that it was a year ago.

"(The price is) going down, but for how long?" asked Koontz, who buys plus.

Knittle said the anticipated price decrease was for the short term, although circumstances affecting prices can change any day.

As winter approaches, crude oil could be diverted from being used to make gasoline to making home-heating oil, Knittle said. That could drive gas prices back up.

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