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Drop in gas prices welcomed
Downward trend could extend into 2012
Charles Wyche pumps gas at RaceTrac on Hwy. 20. Local motorists have seen gas prices drop in recent weeks. - photo by Autumn Vetter

At $2.98 a gallon, Brad Beem was feeling better about filling up his gas tank Tuesday morning.

Part owner of a commercial cleaning company, Beem said he fills up at least three times a week.

"And it’s $70 to fill up my truck every time," he said while stopped at the QuikTrip on Buford Highway.

"Regardless of gas prices, I still have to travel a good bit … I have accounts scattered all across Georgia."

Beem said he was grateful for the drop in prices, which have fallen below $3 a gallon for regular unleaded in some parts of the state.

According to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report, the average price for a gallon of gas is $3.15 in Georgia and $3.23 nationally.

The state’s average is higher than the $2.87 it was this time last year, but less than the $3.37 per gallon rate in November. In August, it was $3.58.

"It’s Christmas, so it’s nice, but it should have gone down a long time ago," said Rick Schreiman, who also was filling up at QuikTrip. "Things always go up quick, but coming down takes a lot longer."

AAA research estimates the downward trend of gas prices will continue into the new year, as oil prices reach below $95 a barrel.

The organization said prices dropped after OPEC increased output to 30 million barrels a day to meet future growth.

Jessica Brady, AAA spokeswoman, said Europe’s debt issues and poor economic outlook also continue to put pressure on oil prices.

As the value of the euro falls, the U.S. dollar has gained momentum, "curbing the appeal of oil as a commodity," she said.

"Retail gas prices are forecast to decrease further as we near the year-end holiday travel period — a welcomed gift to motorists," Brady said.

"Although gas prices are almost 20 cents more than they were last year, they are substantially less than this year’s [national] peak price of $3.98 a gallon."

Jim Horvat said he attempts to consolidate all his trips when the price of gas increases.

"I’ve got a smaller truck too, that I drive all the time," he said Tuesday from the RaceTrac in Cumming. "But a few cents less and I start driving this one.

"I put premium in this truck for the first time in months."