Gasoline prices inched downward for a second consecutive week in Western Pennsylvania.

The average price of a gallon of unleaded self-serve dipped 2.4 cents from last week to $2.951, AAA East Central announced Monday afternoon. Fuel across the region is 13.1 cents cheaper than it was a year ago ($3.082).

Washington’s average dropped a slight 0.2 cents, from $2.973 to $2.971. That ties Jeannette for ninth-lowest average among 22 Western Pennsylvania cities and towns monitored by AAA. Washington’s figure has gone up 12.0 cents over the past six weeks.

For the 13th time in 14 weeks, Altoona has the cheapest fuel in the region with an average of $2.706. That is 15.9 cents below runner-up Beaver ($2.865).

For the second week in a row, Brookville ($3.077) has the most expensive gas. Mercer ($3.022) has the second-highest average.

Pennsylvania’s figure dropped three cents to $2.89, as prices declined or remained stable in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast region.

Gasoline inventory grew by a little less than a half-million barrels and regional refinery utilization rose from 69% to 77%, despite a fire that led to the upcoming closure of the Philadelphia Energy Solutions refinery, the largest refinery on the East Coast. Continued rises in utilization could lead to lower pump prices.

The national average dropped three cents from last week to $2.73, which is 12 cents cheaper than at this time last year.

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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