Cheap gasoline? Try Louisiana

Gasoline prices in Louisiana are among the lowest in the nation and may tumble even more in the next six weeks.

Don Redman, a spokesman for the American Automobile Association, said regular unleaded gasoline sold for $2.84 per gallon here in late 2011.

“We could see prices very similar to that,” said Redman, who works in the organization’s Metairie office.

On Friday, the average price of regular unleaded gasoline in Louisiana was $3, which is lower than all but five states, according to the AAA.

The average price was $2.97 in Baton Rouge, $2.96 in New Orleans and $2.99 in Lafayette.

The national average was $3.20 per gallon.

Rhonda Taylor, who lives in Port Allen, said during a stop for fuel that the drop in prices has been noticeable.

“They are dropping tremendously,” Taylor said. “I fill my tank up and have a few dollars extra.”

Pat Savoy, who lives in Oakdale, said he can fill his Escalade for about $70 compared with $100 or so recently.

“A lot easier on your pocketbook,” Savoy said while filling up before heading to New Orleans for a high school football game.

But he also noticed that side-by-side service stations, with display signs just a few yards apart, were advertising regular unleaded gasoline one for $3 per gallon and the other $3.12.

“I just think it is a real game,” Savoy said of how prices are set.

Redman said the latest drop stems from a variety of factors.

The state’s quiet hurricane season — despite predictions to the contrary — ensured uninterrupted drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, he said.

Other factors include relative quiet in the oil-rich Mideast and ample stockpiles.

Redman said prices should remain mostly stable or drop with the approach of Thanksgiving, a heavy travel period for motorists.

However, truck drivers who rely on diesel are not seeing the same drops.

Mark Qualls, a driver for 34 years who lives in Fort Gibson, Okla., was taking a break before driving on to San Antonio, where he was scheduled at 3 a.m. Saturday to unload a shipment of paper wrappers used by Whataburger.

Qualls said he has noticed the drop in prices for gasoline that he and his wife use for their vehicles more than any relief on diesel costs.

The average price of diesel in Baton Rouge was $3.68 per gallon Friday.

That is just a four-cent drop from a month ago compared with an 18-cent dip for regular unleaded.

“I’m waiting for the spike for the holiday season,” Qualls said. “It happens every year.”

Glenn Rogers, who drives an 18-wheeler on regular, 663-mile runs between Baton Rouge and Augusta, Ga., said he is spending about $50 less per trip for gas with the slight decreases.

“I’ve noticed that prices have gotten lower in the past month or month and a half,” said Rogers, who lives in Fayetteville, N.C.

The latest prices represent a sharp turnaround from earlier this year.

Regular unleaded gasoline in Baton Rouge was $3.65 per gallon in February, which was 46 cents per gallon higher than the month before.

Diesel was selling for $3.98 per gallon then.

Redman said prices sometimes slide during the transition from summer- to winter-grade gasoline.

He said prices often differ sharply from station to station because some can lock in prices for three months at a time, not just one.

Redman said he has seen prices as low as $2.79 per gallon in Louisiana.

Missouri had the lowest prices in the nation on Friday at $2.85 per gallon, according to AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge Report.

The next-lowest were Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas and Kansas.

All five of those states averaged less than $3 per gallon for regular gasoline.

Hawaii had the most expensive gasoline in the nation at $4 per gallon for regular and $4.89 for diesel.