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Charlotte drivers are paying 4 cents a gallon less for gas this week

Traffic on I-77 North of Charlotte looking south from the Highway 21 bridge where it crosses the interstate.
Traffic on I-77 North of Charlotte looking south from the Highway 21 bridge where it crosses the interstate. mhames@charlotteobserver.com

Gas prices across the U.S. are the lowest they have been since the recession thanks to persistently abundant oil supplies.

As is the case nationally, fuel prices in the Charlotte area and the rest of the Carolinas keep falling. As of early Tuesday, average prices in the Charlotte area and the Carolinas had fallen 4 cents over the week, and drivers are saving about 50 cents at the pump compared with this time last year, according to auto group AAA.

Domestic oil inventories are at their highest level for this time of year in nearly 80 years, and that helps keep gas prices down, AAA noted in a report this week. February is the start of spring oil refinery maintenance season, though, which could cause gas prices to climb.

Another reason gas prices could start climbing: Gasoline demand tends to start increasing in February, and reaches its peak in August. At this time last year, gas prices rose for 40 days straight, for example.

Below are the average gas prices locally and nationally. AAA surveyed 120,000 gas stations to determine average prices.

Charlotte

North Carolina

South Carolina

U.S.

Current

$1.68

$1.70

$1.53

$1.70

Week ago

$1.72

$1.74

$1.57

$1.73

Year ago

$2.17

$2.20

$2.03

$2.25

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