Gasoline prices fall to new low for 2006, average $2.20 nationwide

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THE ASSOCIATED PRESS


The price of gasoline has fallen to its lowest level in more than 10 months.

The federal Energy Information Administration said Monday that U.S. motorists paid $2.20 a gallon on average for regular grade last week, a decrease of 1.8 cents from the previous week.


Pump prices are now 17.6 cents lower than a year ago and have plummeted by more than 80 cents a gallon since the start of August. The last time prices were below $2.20, on average, was the week ending Dec. 26, 2005.


Gasoline can be found for less than $2 a gallon in many parts of the country.

Gasoline prices were most expensive last week on the West Coast, averaging $2.381 per gallon, and cheapest in the Gulf Coast region, averaging $2.08 per gallon, according to the EIA.

The price of oil is down roughly 25 percent since a summertime peak above $78 a barrel, settling Monday at $60.02.

Average retail gasoline prices peaked at $3.07 a gallon in September 2005, reflecting the extreme tightness in the market following hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which knocked out refineries in the Gulf region as well as pipelines that deliver fuel to the East Coast and Midwest.

They remained high all year n and surpassed $3 again this summer n amid soaring crude-oil prices, tight refining capacity and fears that there would be another extreme hurricane season this summer.

But as the outlook for economic growth began to look shaky, supplies grew and hurricane fears never materialized, a massive sell-off in gasoline futures began, sending oil futures lower as well.