For second straight year, gas prices cheapest in SC - Live5News.com | Charleston, SC | News, Weather, Sports

For second straight year, gas prices cheapest in SC

For the second straight year, drivers in South Carolina paid the cheapest gas prices in the country.

AAA Carolinas said Thursday South Carolina had the cheapest gas prices in the nation in 2013. 

The South Carolina average of $3.24 for 2013 is the state's lowest average in three years -- down 11 cents from the 2012 average of $3.35 and down seven cents from the 2011 average of $3.31. In 2010, gas prices in South Carolina averaged $2.60.

"Increased refinery capacity, more fuel-efficient vehicles and higher production of North American crude oil helped push prices lower in 2013," said David E. Parsons, president and CEO of AAA Carolinas. "We expect these trends to continue into 2014."

South Carolina gas prices started 2013 at $3.15. on Jan. 1 and peaked for the year at $3.62 on Feb. 22. The lowest price for the year was $3.03 on Nov. 14.

In 2012, South Carolina gas prices peaked for the year at $3.74 on April 9 and hit bottom at $2.91 on July 3.

For 2013, the highest annual metro average in South Carolina was in Charleston at $3.29 and the lowest was in Greenville/Spartanburg at $3.19. Myrtle Beach averaged $3.22 and Columbia averaged $3.24.

The national average for 2013 was $3.49, down 11 cents from $3.60 in 2012. California had the highest in the continental U.S. at $3.89.

Gas prices in South Carolina started 2014 at $3.12 - three cents lower than the $3.15 average for Jan. 1, 2013. They are expected to remain low through January due to decreased demand but typically rise in February as refineries conduct seasonal maintenance.

Overall, gas prices are expected to average slightly less in 2014 as refineries continue to expand production capacity and increasingly rely on North American crude oil. These factors should provide a supply cushion that helps to limit dramatic price spikes caused by supply and demand. However, unexpected global events or significant economic growth could result in higher prices.

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