Gasoline prices fell slightly in Western Pennsylvania following two weekly increases, but are projected to rise again.

The average price of a gallon of unleaded self-serve dipped 2.8 cents this week, to $2.920, AAA East Central announced Monday afternoon. The regional figure is 19.5 cents lower than it was a year ago ($3.115).

Washington’s price likewise declined following two weekly increases. It slid 2.7 cents this week, from $2.957 to $2.930. That is the 11th-lowest average among 22 Western Pennsylvania cities and towns monitored by AAA. Washington’s figure has gone up 7.9 cents over the past three weeks.

For the 10th time in 11 weeks, Altoona has the cheapest gasoline in the region, with an average of $2.795. New Castle ($2.811)ranks second. Warren ($2.999), for the third week in a row, has the most expensive fuel, edging Brookville ($2.997).

Pennsylvania’s average – $2.90 – is a penny lower this week, while the national figure rose four cents to $2.75. New gas taxes introduced in 13 states this month have helped fuel the nationwide jump.

Gas prices are expected to go back up again, in the aftermath of a fire at the Philadelphia Energy Solution refinery in South Philadelphia two weeks ago. The facility will be closed later this month.

Regional refinery utilization has dropped to 73% and gasoline stocks have fallen by 2.3 million barrels, to 58.5 million, according to the Energy Information Administration. That is the lowest level since December 2017.

Business Writer

Rick Shrum joined the Observer-Reporter as a reporter in 2012, after serving as a section editor, sports reporter and copy editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Rick has won eight individual writing awards, including two Golden Quills.

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