PORTLAND, Maine — Average gasoline prices in Maine fell another 8 cents per gallon last week, dipping to about $1 less than the price of a gallon of regular gasoline one year ago.
The statewide average for a gallon of regular gasoline stood at $2.48 at the start of this week, down from $2.56 a week ago and about $3.53 last December, according to surveys by the Automobile Association of America.
The national average price dipped to $2.28 from $2.39 one week ago, with Missouri and Oklahoma’s statewide averages dropping below $2.
The drop continues a decline fueled by the presence of increased crude oil production in the United States and a decision from the world’s major oil producing countries to hold their output steady.
That provides unexpected savings for U.S. drivers and businesses, giving retailers hopes for a better holiday shopping season, contributing to a boost in consumer confidence in December and also a drop in home heating oil prices to about $1 less per gallon than one year ago.
The impact of falling crude oil prices is being felt throughout Maine. More than 60 percent of Maine homes use oil for heat in the winter and about 78 percent of the state’s workers drive alone to work, according to U.S. Census estimates.
By county, the gas price tracking website GasBuddy.com showed the lowest gasoline prices in Maine were in Androscoggin, Kennebec and Waldo counties, with the highest prices in Aroostook, Cumberland and Knox counties.
For heating fuel, prices as low as the statewide average of $2.79 recorded last week by the Governor’s Energy Office were last seen about four years ago, a fluctuation tied to the price of a barrel of crude oil, which dropped to levels last seen in 2009.
The direction of oil prices into 2015 remains difficult to forecast, with international events such as an attack on one of Libya’s largest export terminals expected this week to influence the global price of a barrel of crude oil.
The New York Times reported the fire around the oil terminal, Sidra, is expected to burn 850,000 barrels of oil stored in five oil tanks. The militia of a Tripoli-based Islamist government set the tanks ablaze as part of a fight with the country’s internationally recognized government in Tobruk, in a battle over control of the country.