Gas prices dip below $3 at some Houston stations

Gasoline prices have dipped below $3 at some stations in Houston and broader drops are expected because of a recent drop in the price of crude oil.

At least two Houston-area stations, including one at a Chevron at 12222 FM-529 and a Valero station at 1700 W South St in Alvin, were selling regular at $2.99 a gallon Friday, according to the consumer website Gasbuddy.com.

The average Houston price is $3.26 and is expected to continue falling to below $3 by the end of the summer, analysts said.

The national average has not dipped below $3 since Dec. 21, 2010, said Tom Kloza, chief analyst for Oil Price Information Service.

“It represents a significant break from what we’ve seen over the last 18 months and it represents a significant price break over what we’ve seen over those ridiculous … predictions of $5 or $6 gas,” Kloza said.

The drops in current and expected future gasoline prices are driven in large part by a drop in world oil prices because of concerns about a weakening world economy.

Domestic oil was trading a few cents under $80 a barrel at midday Friday, down from more than  $100 earlier this year.

Growth in North American oil production from shale, which has added to domestic supplies, has helped as well, said Patrick DeHaan, a senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com.

“It’s certainly a good possibility that we see gas prices (averaging) under $3 a gallon maybe as early as October or perhaps sooner,” DeHaan said.

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