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OKLAHOMA has lowest gas prices in nation

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ The price of gasoline in Oklahoma dropped by 35 cents a gallon during the past month, bringing the average cost of regular unleaded to $1.33, lowest in the nation, according to the American Automobile Association-Oklahoma.

In Oklahoma City, the average price was $1.27 per gallon, while Tulsa reached $1.26. One station in the Oklahoma City area was selling gas for as cheap as $1.04, while others were in the range of $1.10 to $1.20.

Dennis O'Brien, director of the Institute for Energy Economics and Policy at the University of Oklahoma's Sarkeys Energy Center, said prices have come down because of increased refining operations, plentiful gasoline imports and a slowing economy that has curtailed driving.

Oklahoma tends to have lower gasoline prices because it is close to a large number of refineries and energy ports, he said. Discounters buy up excess gasoline supplies, forcing name-brand dealers to reduce prices.

Chuck Mai, spokesman for AAA-Oklahoma, said another reason for the low prices is the relatively high number of gasoline outlets in Oklahoma's urban areas, compared to other locales.

But O'Brien says the steep price drop is surprising.

``I can never remember a month when there's been a change from $1.60 to this,'' he said. ``Were talking about a 45-cent drop in a month, and that's incredible.''

Gas prices nationally were $1.55 a gallon Wednesday, down from $1.71 a month ago, according to AAA.

Meanwhile, gasoline prices in nearby states towered above Oklahoma's prices. In Colorado on Wednesday, the average for unleaded regular was $1.71 per gallon. New Mexico's average price was $1.57, Texas was $1.48, Arkansas $1.46, Kansas $1.36 and Missouri $1.35.

Oklahoma's gas price peaked May 29 at $1.69 per gallon.

Mia said rural Oklahoma hasn't seen the gas-price bust of the major metro areas. He has heard complaints of $1.49 gasoline in Ada, for instance.

Wholesale gasoline prices for July delivery fell more than 8 percent, ending down 6.29 cents at 71.5 cents per gallon, compared to a price peak of $1.17 a gallon May 24.

``There was no reason for prices to rise in late May,'' OBrien said. ``But there were a lot of people who were running around saying the sky was going to fall based on what happened last year when new EPA regulations created production and delivery bottlenecks.''

O'Brien said adequate supplies of gasoline on the market would seem to indicate that prices should stay low until a customary price bump around Labor Day.
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