The steep plunge in gasoline prices in the South Sound continued this week with pump prices down 18.2 cents in just a week, and more than 60 cents a gallon from the Memorial Day holiday when prices peaked.
In the Tacoma area Monday, the average price of a gallon of unleaded regular was $3.684. That’s down from $4.282 just a month ago, according to The News Tribune’s Gas Deal Finder.
That price is more than a dime below what it was at the same time last summer.
In Olympia, prices have seen a similar plunge with Thurston County’s lowest price reported at $3.45 a gallon at the Shell station at the Yelm Highway and Rich Road. The lowest price in the Tacoma area was $3.38 a gallon at the 76 station at 112th Street and Steele.
National prices remain lower than those in the South Sound despite the steep descent of local prices. The national average was $3.443 Monday according to GasBuddy.com
Driving the lower prices is a building inventory of gasoline on the West Coast thanks to the late May production startup of Washington’s largest refinery at Cherry Point. That BP refinery had been closed since mid-February because of a fire.
Crude oil prices, propelled by trouble in the European economies, are also declining. Crude was selling under $79 a barrel Monday compared with a high of more than $109 a barrel in mid-March.
The nation’s cheapest gas is in South Carolina where the average price is under $3 a gallon. Part of the price difference is taxes. South Carolina levies a 16 cent per gallon gas tax. Washington adds a 37.5-cent tax on each gallon, one of the highest in the nation.