The Oregon and national averages for regular unleaded are at their lowest prices of the year. The national average loses nine cents this week to $3.24, falling below the year's previous low point which was $3.28 on Jan. 1, 2012. The Oregon average drops six cents to $3.31. Until last week, the year's previous low price was $3.385 on Jan.2, 2012. Oregon's average has not been this low since February of 2011.
In addition to hitting new low prices for 2012, several state averages have breached notable thresholds in recent days. On Friday, the average in Hawaii dropped to fractions of a penny below $4 per gallon at $3.9995. This was the first time since January 1 and just the second time since March 13, 2011 that the price in every state was below $4. On Saturday the average price in Missouri fell below $3 per gallon, which marked the first time since South Carolina was below that level on July 7 that a state average has breached this price point.
Relief is being felt by motorists across the country as pump prices continue to fall approaching the busy year-end holiday travel period. These prices have been driven lower by a number of factors, including the switch to winter-blend fuel, which is less expensive to produce; increasing gasoline inventories; cheaper crude oil prices; lower demand; and economic concerns, including the "fiscal cliff."