Commuters were in for a pleasant surprise, relatively speaking, if they stopped for gas Wednesday.
The price of regular unleaded fuel has dipped as low as $3.12 a gallon at some stations across the metro-east. That's 57 cents cheaper that it was a year ago, and 75 cents cheaper than this past summer.
"The short answer to why is that wholesale prices for gasoline are down considerably," said Mike Right, spokesman for the American Automobile Association in St. Louis. "And that's because crude oil prices are down. The price is about $102 a barrel right now but it has been up over $115 in recent months. The price of a gallon of wholesale gallon of gas is $2.63 today. At one point was well over $3 a gallon."
The lowest prices Wednesday were in Freeburg. A gallon of regular unleaded was $3.12 a gallon at the Casey's at 800 N. State St. and the Moto Mart at 611 S. State St.
Other area stations offered fuel for $3.19 a gallon Wednesday. They included the Moto Marts on North Illinois Street in Swansea and West Main and North 6th streets in Belleville, Quik Trips at Old Collinsville Road and Lebanon Avenue and Centreville Avenue and South Belt West in Belleville, Circle K at South Belt West and South Illinois Street in Belleville.
Right said that easing tension in the Middle East is most likely the reason gas prices have eased.
"It's a tinderbox there and every time it gets stirred up prices go north," Right said.
According to AAA, the price of fuel could go even lower. Maybe down as much as 30 cents a gallon,.
"It's great news for consumers," Right said. "It should bode well for early Christmas shopping. Maybe there will be a couple of extra presents under the tree or maybe some people will take advantage of the lower gasoline prices to take a mini vacation."
Still, Right said people shouldn't factor the lower prices into their long range budget.
"It depends on who you talk to what they say gas prices are going to do," Right said. "It's all over the board. Some people say it could continue to go down. But it's really unpredictable. Right now it looks like we should be enjoying lower prices for a while. But it's difficult to predict what's going to happen in the future."
Contact reporter Scott Wuerz at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 239-3636.