Gas prices reach new lows in Berkeley, throughout nation

Ashish Samaddar/Staff

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California gas prices continue to reach significant lows this month, generating savings at the pump for Berkeley motorists, according to an American Automobile Association report released this week.

Californians are paying on average about $3.19 per gallon, approximately 40 cents fewer than they were a year ago. This represents the greatest annual decline in any state and follows a national trend of falling gas prices, according to the report.

“I’m delighted,” said Willa Johnson, a Berkeley resident. “It’s a good thing. It’s cool because it’s an opportunity to save money. It’s ridiculous what it (usually) costs to fill the tank up.”

The report estimated that Americans have saved more than $250 million each day since the price peaked for this year in late April. Thanksgiving prices are also expected to be at their lowest since 2009, and oil prices, in general, are expected to remain low.

Cynthia Harris, an AAA spokesperson, said the falling prices are the result of increased crude-oil development in the United States and declining crude-oil prices internationally.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest producer of oil, lowered the price of oil exports to the United States earlier this month.

Harris said California’s gas prices are typically some of the highest in the country due to stringent gasoline regulations and high costs of living.

In California, fuel-efficient cars and frugal consumer habits have also contributed to the decreasing price, Harris said. She added that prices also tend to fall after September and October, when gas companies switch to a more cheaply produced “winter blend.”

At the Chevron gas station on University Avenue, falling prices haven’t changed operations, but they have changed customer attitudes, according to Amit Jung Oli, a cashier at the station.

“Comparatively, more people are coming in because of the price,” Oli said. “Most people are happy.”

Justin McRay, a customer at the Berkeley Elements Petroleum Inc. station, said the price change could have a significant effect on the economy if prices remain low.

“More people would have more money to spend on things, even if it’s only a couple hundred a month,” McRay said. “That’s a down payment for a house in 10 years.”

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, which exports approximately 60 percent of the world’s petroleum, will meet Nov. 27 and potentially discuss their response to globally falling crude-oil prices, according to the report.

For some UC Berkeley students, the price change comes as a change of pace and a relief.

“I love it, especially when you’re a commuter and it helps out financially,” said Shuaib Amiri, a campus junior who commutes one-and-a-half hours from Livermore. “That $5 to $10 a week means more food. … I think it’s great, and I hope (the price) continues to stay low.”

Contact Alex Barreira at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @abarreira_dc.