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Ups and downs at the pumps

There’s good news and bad news for motorists filling up their gas tanks in Hampton Roads, according to AAA Tidewater.

AAA Tidewater announced in a press release Monday that the average price for a gallon in Virginia was $2.70, a four-cent drop from last week as demand across the country has leveled off. That was the ninth-cheapest average across the country — South Carolina was ranked No. 1 with a $2.58 per gallon average — and the seventh-steepest decrease in weekly gas prices.

But Virginia’s average was still 58 cents more than its price per gallon last year. The average price in the Hampton Roads region on Tuesday was about $2.71, cheaper than the approximate $2.77 recorded last week but much more expensive than $2.09 recorded last year, according to aaa.com.

“Gas prices continue to dip across the Commonwealth, but remain more expensive than last summer,” Georjeane Blumling, vice president of public affairs for AAA Tidewater Virginia, stated in the press release. “This year’s higher prices seem to be influencing driving habits. While consumer gasoline demand remains strong, it is slowing and not growing.”

Drivers could end up paying less at the pumps if gas inventories continue to grow at a sustainable pace. The Energy Information Administration’s latest report showed that gasoline inventories swelled by 3 million barrels this week to 82 million overall in the region, the greatest yield for any region on the week, according to the press release.

But oil prices are expected to remain volatile. There are reports that OPEC may not announce an increase in crude production at the next meeting on June 22, according to the press release. Reports prior to Memorial Day speculated that OPEC would increase production, and that contributed to the decline of oil prices.

Gasbuddy.com on Tuesday recorded prices at Suffolk pumps that ranged from $2.58 to as high as $2.73 per gallon, a slight improvement compared to the $2.58 to $2.79 per gallon range recorded on May 15.