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Gas prices hit new low for 2013. Who's paying under $3? (+video)

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(Read caption) Consumers who have noticed big spikes in gas prices can blame one small change.
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Gas prices are the lowest they've been yet in 2013.  

The combination of dwindling gas demand and ample stocks have pushed average gas prices to the lowest level since Dec. 27, 2012, according to AAA, the national motor club based in Heathrow, Fla. Prices are expected to continue to fall this year, approaching the $3 mark. In many places across the US, drivers are already paying less than $3 a gallon to fill up their gas tank.

“There are fewer frowns on drivers’ faces as they leave gas stations given recent price declines,” AAA spokesperson Avery Ash said in a statement. “Abundant supplies, declining demand, falling oil costs and the switch to winter-blend gasoline have helped push gas prices down in every single state.”

US gas prices averaged $3.28 Friday, according to AAA, down four cents from a week ago. October was a good month for drivers, with prices sliding 12 cents per gallon or 3.5 percent.

Missouri drivers should be particularly happy. The state is the only one where gas prices average under $3, according to AAA, but a growing number of motorists across the country are also finding gas in the 2-dollar range. Average gas prices in Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas are just above $3, and more than 1 in 10 gas stations across the US are charging less $3 per gallon. 

The end of driving season and onset of cold weather means motorists across the country are spending less time behind the wheel. Production, meanwhile, is booming. New drilling techniques have dramatically increased the amount of oil in the US, and refineries have had few disruptions in this quiet hurricane season.

US crude oil inventories rose by 4.1 million barrels to 383.9 million barrels this week, according to the US Energy Information Administration. Stockpiles have gained 7.9 percent in the past six weeks as refineries perform maintenance and planned outages.

The glut has put downward pressure on oil prices, which hit a low of $94.66 Friday in futures trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil prices have remained firmly in double digits for the past two weeks. 

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If those trends continue, the national average should continue to close in on $3, but most analysts don't expect it to drop below before the year is out. AAA expects it to hit $3.10 before 2013 ends. That would be the lowest average gas price since February 2011.

“Expect a nice holiday bonus in the form of much cheaper gas prices,” Mr. Ash said. “The national average should get tantalizingly close to $3 per gallon, and many consumers will find bargains below that price before the year is over.” 

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