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WASHINGTON (AP) — Plunging oil prices are giving travelers a break as the summer driving season winds down.
GasBuddy.com puts the average price of a gallon of regular at $2.61 nationwide. That's more than 80 cents cheaper than a year ago. Oil analyst Patrick DeHaan says most of the country can expect prices to continue dropping through the fall as demand eases and refineries take care of maintenance issues and switch to cheaper winter grades of fuel.
DeHaan says gasoline already can be found for less than $2 a gallon at about 500 stations around the country and he expects that by December thousands of stations could be selling it that low.
Oil settled at $40.45 on the New York Mercantile Exchange Friday, but DeHaan says refineries have been a bottleneck, keeping the savings from fully reaching consumer.
Problems, including fires, have cut production at refineries in the West, Midwest and the Northeast. Still, DeHaan says most drivers should see falling prices for Labor Day.
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