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Santa comes early at pump as gasoline falls to lowest since 2009

Dan Murtaugh and Jessica Summers (c) 2014, Bloomberg News. HOUSTON — The average price of regular gasoline at U.S. pumps slid to the lowest level since May 15, 2009, dropping 24.68 cents in the two weeks ended Dec. 19 to $2.4713 a gallon, according to Lundberg Survey Inc.

Prices are 79.05 cents lower than a year ago, according to the survey, which is based on information obtained at about 2,500 filling stations by the Camarillo, California-based company. The latest plunge in crude oil prices may lead to a further decline at the pump by a few more pennies, according to Trilby Lundberg, the president of Lundberg Survey.

According to GasBuddy.com, an app that finds area gas prices for mobile users, gas in Tarrant County is selling for as low as $1.85 a gallon as of Monday, Dec. 22. 

Retail gasoline fell after crude prices dropped for the fourth consecutive week amid increasing production and weaker- than-expected global demand. Slumping prices at the pump will save U.S. households $550 next year, the Energy Information Administration said.

“It is a dramatic boon to fuel consumers,” Lundberg said in a telephone interview. Gasoline “is a modest portion of our giant gross domestic product and yet it does have a pervasive and festive benefit to motorists.”

The highest price for gasoline in the lower 48 states among the markets surveyed was on Long Island, New York, at $2.82 a gallon, Lundberg said. The lowest price was in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where customers paid an average $2.06 a gallon. Regular gasoline averaged $2.74 in Los Angeles.

U.S. oil output rose to 9.14 million barrels a day in the week ended Dec. 12, the highest level in weekly EIA data dating back to 1983. U.S. production has increased 65 percent in five years as companies have used horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing to tap into hydrocarbon-rich layers of underground shale rock.

The EIA said last week that global crude consumption next year will be 390,000 barrels a day less in 2015 than it forecast in October.

Gasoline costs for the average American household next year are expected to be the lowest since 2004 because of falling prices and more fuel-efficient cars and trucks that reduce the number of gallons used to travel a given distance, according to the EIA.

Refineries processed 16.3 million barrels of oil a day in the week of Dec. 12 after using 16.63 million the week before, the highest level in records dating back to 1989.

Gasoline stockpiles grew 5.25 million barrels, or 2.4 percent, in the week ended Dec. 12 to 222 million, EIA data show. Demand over the four weeks ended Dec. 12 reached 9.15 million barrels a day.

_Summers reported from New York.

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Robert Francis
Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

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