Area gasoline prices fall to below 90 cents

Wednesday, November 21, 2001

Elliot Shearon of Cape Girardeau smiled as he gassed up his car at a cash-only station on William Street where regular unleaded fuel was selling at just under 86 cents a gallon Tuesday.

"It's great now," he said. "I have heard that Southeast Missouri has the cheapest gas in the nation."

Unleaded gasoline is selling at most Cape Girardeau stations at just under 90 cents a gallon. At most stations in Jackson, Mo., motorists can fill their tanks for just under 87 cents a gallon.

Prices are about 30 to 35 cents lower than a year ago at this time, said service station operator Bob Blank of Bi-State Oil Co. in Cape Girardeau.

"It's getting dirt cheap," he said.

It's a bargain compared to pump prices in other parts of the nation.

Local gas prices may be the lowest in the state right now. "That is the lowest that I have heard of," said Mike Right, a spokesman for AAA in St. Louis.

Pump prices are at least 18 cents lower on average in Cape Girardeau than in St. Louis. Statewide, the average price for regular unleaded is over $1.06 a gallon.

Nationwide, the average price is over $1.18 a gallon. That's nearly 36 cents a gallon less than last Thanksgiving, AAA figures show. In Missouri, gas prices are down 35 cents a gallon over the holiday period a year ago.

Right said a surplus of fuel has forced gas prices down.

"There is an abundance of gasoline and an abundance of crude oil," he said. "Demand worldwide is very, very off."

Right estimates all forms of travel will be down a combined 6 percent this Thanksgiving compared to the holiday period a year ago.

Jim Maurer, co-owner of Rhodes 101 Stops, said crude oil prices are way down. "That is just going to relate to lower prices," said Maurer, who runs a chain of 22 convenience stores and service stations in Southeast Missouri.

Oil-producing countries that are members of OPEC have cut back production, "but at this point they haven't cut back production enough to affect the price," he said.

Maurer said that's good news for motorists and a reason for customers to be wishing their service station attendants a happy Thanksgiving.

Some experts predict prices nationwide could continue to fall in coming months. But Right said prices climbed in Kansas City and St. Louis within the last week and could soon be rising again in Southeast Missouri.

mbliss@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 123

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