Utahns get the gift of low gas prices this holiday season


    By Jesse Coleman

    BYU students will get more gas for their dollar, as prices at the pump plummet nationwide.

    The price for a gallon of unleaded gasoline dropped an average of 12 cents this month in Utah to $1.38, according to AAA Insurance figures.

    In Provo, the price dropped 12 cents to $1.49, and in Orem, the price dropped 20 cents to $1.29. These figures reflect an overall trend across the nation, as the average price for gas dropped 15 cents from last month to $1.19. This is almost 35 cents less from this time last year.

    Prices are expected to remain at this level for most of the holiday season, said Rolayne Fairclough, press secretary for AAA Insurance.

    “During the holidays, we don”t anticipate any high spikes,” Fairclough said. “We will see prices relatively where they are right now barring any unforeseen circumstance.”

    The major reason behind falling prices is the overall cost of crude oil, said John Felmy, chief economist for the American Petroleum Institute. This drop on crude oil prices began Sept. 24, shortly after OPEC promised to keep a stable supply of oil after the terrorist attacks.

    This drop, combined with a slowing economy and a lower demand for fuel, has caused gasoline prices to plunge nationwide, Felmy said.

    OPEC met yesterday to discuss shoring up crude oil costs by reducing production. Their decision will effect the future of gas prices worldwide, Felmy said.

    “Everything depends on what OPEC decides,” Felmy said. “We are hostage of worldwide oil supply and demand, and we have to take what OPEC decides to produce.”

    OPEC was unavailable for comment, but their decision will not likely create a tremendous upsurge in gas prices, Fairclough said.

    “It”s in their business to see the economy stronger. OPEC wants to see it rebound,” she said.

    Felmy also said a cut in production does not necessarily translate to higher gas prices.

    Meanwhile, here in Provo, the change in gas prices has not done much to change economic trends or student travel.

    Dixon Holmes, assistant director for economic development in Provo, said people aren”t exactly rushing to the pumps to take advantage of lower costs. Though people may decide to fill up a full tank rather than half a tank, overall people are not really purchasing more gas.

    One student traveling out of state this weekend said the change in gas prices has not altered her plans to go to California.

    Andrea Miller, 22, a music education major Littleton Colo., said she is happy about the lower prices, but she would have gone anyway.

    “The cheaper the better, but as far as a long trip, it wouldn”t make a difference,” Miller said.

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