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Sunday May 24th, 2015 7:26AM

Crude oil prices drop to 12-week low, pump prices lower

By Staff
TAMPA, Fla. - Amicable talks with Iran's leadership, a possible government shutdown, and easing tensions with Syria pushed oil prices near $100 a barrel last week. As a result of the lower cost of crude, fall gas prices are expected to continue on a downward trend.

Talks with Iran could mean a removal of sanctions and the return of Iranian oil to the market. Currently, the oil market is well stocked. Crude inventories unexpectedly rose for the first time in a month by about 3 million barrels, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). The EIA initially forecast a 1 million barrel increase in supplies.

"At this time, every indicator points to lower gas prices," said Jessica Brady, AAA spokeswoman, The Auto Club Group. "Southeast gas prices are about 20 to 25 cents less than they were a month ago and are well below last year's averages at this time. Fuel prices will likely remain affordable and could reach close to $3 a gallon if prices continue to drop as forecast."

A barrel of oil settled Friday at $102.87 on the New York Mercantile Exchange-$1.80 less than the week prior.

The national average price of regular unleaded gasoline is $3.41, 7 cents less than last week. Florida's average of $3.35 and Georgia's average of $3.26 both fell 6 cents from last week. Tennessee's average of $3.21 decreased 4 cents from last week.
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