Gasoline prices dropped across Western Pennsylvania this week. A gallon of unleaded self-serve costs $3.321, 2.2 cents lower than a week ago, AAA East Central reported Monday afternoon.

That regional figure is 76.6 cents higher than a year ago, when the price was $2.555. The local AAA monitors gasoline prices in 23 cities and towns in this end of the state.

The greater Washington area posted an average of $3.276, the fourth lowest price in Western Pennsylvania. New Castle had the cheapest fuel, at $3.257, followed by New Kensington ($3.268) and Uniontown ($3.273). All were below the state average of $3.295.

Mercer, Oil City and Warren tied for the highest figure in the region at $3.459.

The national average dropped by a penny to $3.17. Summer driving is beyond its peak, a break for drivers nationwide. The recovery from Hurricane Ida has been slow, however, as AAA reported that slightly less than half of U.S. offshore oil production in the Gulf remains idle.

Refinery utilization is down almost 10%. Gasoline stocks, according to the Energy Information Administration, have tumbled by 7.2 million barrels to 220 million. Stock levels are expected to remain tight.

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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