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Gas prices expected to drop in N.H. through end of year

  • People line up to fill gas containers at the New Jersey Turnpike's Thomas A. Edison service area Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012, near Woodbridge, N.J. The price of oil is rising as operations at refineries and supply terminals in the Northeast remain restricted three days after Superstorm Sandy. Benchmark oil gained 60 cents Thursday to $86.84 per barrel in New York.  (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

    People line up to fill gas containers at the New Jersey Turnpike's Thomas A. Edison service area Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012, near Woodbridge, N.J. The price of oil is rising as operations at refineries and supply terminals in the Northeast remain restricted three days after Superstorm Sandy. Benchmark oil gained 60 cents Thursday to $86.84 per barrel in New York. (AP Photo/Mel Evans) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • People line up to fill gas containers at the New Jersey Turnpike's Thomas A. Edison service area Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012, near Woodbridge, N.J. The price of oil is rising as operations at refineries and supply terminals in the Northeast remain restricted three days after Superstorm Sandy. Benchmark oil gained 60 cents Thursday to $86.84 per barrel in New York.  (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

    People line up to fill gas containers at the New Jersey Turnpike's Thomas A. Edison service area Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012, near Woodbridge, N.J. The price of oil is rising as operations at refineries and supply terminals in the Northeast remain restricted three days after Superstorm Sandy. Benchmark oil gained 60 cents Thursday to $86.84 per barrel in New York. (AP Photo/Mel Evans) Purchase photo reprints at PhotoExtra »

  • People line up to fill gas containers at the New Jersey Turnpike's Thomas A. Edison service area Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012, near Woodbridge, N.J. The price of oil is rising as operations at refineries and supply terminals in the Northeast remain restricted three days after Superstorm Sandy. Benchmark oil gained 60 cents Thursday to $86.84 per barrel in New York.  (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
  • People line up to fill gas containers at the New Jersey Turnpike's Thomas A. Edison service area Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012, near Woodbridge, N.J. The price of oil is rising as operations at refineries and supply terminals in the Northeast remain restricted three days after Superstorm Sandy. Benchmark oil gained 60 cents Thursday to $86.84 per barrel in New York.  (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Gas prices are expected to drop in New Hampshire through the end of the year, according to Nick Wallner, spokesman for the American Automobile Association’s Northern New England office in Concord.

Prices usually peak in the summer months, Wallner said, and decrease in the winter. And despite what voters hear during campaign season, he said prices are affected more by economics than politics. Last week, Wallner took time to talk with the Monitor about gasoline.

We’ve seen gas prices go up and down. Do you have any recent statistics?

For the month of October we saw that the national average price of gasoline dropped 26.2 cents per gallon. This was the steepest monthly decline since June. . . . AAA expects that gas prices throughout the country will continue to drop through the end of the year.

How much are prices expected to drop?

By (tomorrow) we’re projecting $3.40 to $3.50 a gallon. . . . And then we expect it to be between $3.25 and $3.40 a gallon by Thanksgiving. So that’s good news.

How do these national averages compare to New Hampshire?

The national average (Thursday) was $3.50. The New Hampshire average is $3.61 and that dropped a penny since (Wednesday), and it dropped 7 cents since a week (before) and it has dropped 26.7 cents from a month ago. And as you can see that falls pretty close to the national average (which) dropped 26.2 (cents) and we dropped 26.7 (cents).

How does that compare to last year?

This same date a year ago was $3.41 (in New Hampshire), whereas the national average was $3.43 a year ago. So nationally,

we’re off by 7 cents, but New Hampshire-wise we are off by 20 cents.

Will Hurricane Sandy have an impact on gas prices?

Well, I think what we have is we have a couple of East Coast refineries that shut down temporarily, so that affected production on the East Coast. . . . I think obviously they’ll resume operations, then you’ve got to reinstitute your transportation distribution system. . . . I think that the biggest problem right now, or was (last week), was while roads were open, major thoroughfares were open, some stations had no power. They had gas, but they had no power so you couldn’t get gas from these folks.

So that won’t affect prices continuing to drop through the end of the year?

What’s happening is that we’re required by (the Environmental Protection Agency) to have seasonal fuels that are mandated by EPA, and it’s cheaper to produce the winter version as opposed to the summer version. We’re going from the seasonal shift from summer blend to winter blend gasoline. . . . We also see something – this is a new expression that I’ve heard – it’s called the impact of demand destruction. In other words, because of the storm we’ve seen a substantial decrease in demand.

We’ve heard about gas prices during political campaign season. Do politicians actually have any control over gas prices?

Not really. . . . We talk about adding pipelines, we talk about drilling up north, but basically this is a market. It’s wherever you can get the best price for gasoline. So a lot of the gas produced in Texas, believe it or not, is shipped overseas because they probably can get a better price. So it’s all a matter of economies. . . . If you can sell it for $4 a gallon overseas or $3.50 in the United States, if you’re a seller of gasoline, what are you going to do?

So what does affect gas prices?

Well, a while ago it always used to be supply and demand. A few years ago, we had huge demands internationally. . . . It caused a lot of these prices to go up because of that. I think now a lot of it basically is a result of the financial world and speculation and the economies of stock markets and betting on futures and things like that that really control the price of gasoline. Obviously supply and demand is one part of it, but also speculation on futures is another part of it.

(Laura McCrystal can be reached at 369-3312 or lmccrystal@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @lmccrystal.)

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