Good news about gasoline for Memorial Day travelers in Florida

TIME TO CUT THE RIBBON — Slicing the red ribbon in front of the store marks the official welcome of Wawa to Deltona. On the front room, from left, are City Commissioner Anita Bradford, City Manager Jane Shang, Vice Mayor Victor Ramos, Deltona Wawa Store Manager Alison Wurst and Mayor Heidi Herzberg.

As Americans mark the unofficial start of summer with a three-day holiday weekend, there is some good news on gasoline prices.

The average retail price of a gallon of gasoline is down throughout Florida.

“It’s been steadily declining,” AAA Auto Club South spokesman Mark Jenkins said.

Memorial Day is the traditional beginning of the summer vacation season, and motorists will see some relief from the runup in prices at the pump earlier in the spring.

Prices have gone down about 10 cents per gallon since the middle of May, and the slide continues at “maybe about a half-cent per day,” Jenkins said.

At this writing, the statewide average price for a gallon of self-serve unleaded regular gas is $2.618. Volusia County is slightly lower, with an average of $2.616.

When Wawa opened in Deltona May 23, the company celebrated by giving customers something to celebrate: gasoline at $2.499 per gallon. That price, in effect for 72 hours, stood in stark contrast to the prevailing prices of other stations.

“You have a place like Wawa that comes in and creates competition,” Jenkins said.

But there are some places in the Sunshine State where you can buy fuel even below Wawa’s promotion prices.

“It’s $2.37 in Tampa. Tampa tends to lead the way, because we are often the first stop for tankers coming into port,” he said.

He noted the tankers in Tampa are often laden with finished fuel, rather than crude oil that must be refined.

Several factors, Jenkins said, are working in consumers’ favor:

— Oil stocks are rising.

— Oil prices are falling. The price of a barrel of West Texas crude oil dropped from $61.42 to $57.91 on May 24, following previous price declines.

— Gasoline stocks are likewise rising, as almost all U.S. refineries have finished their seasonal maintenance and their shift from winter to summer fuel blends.

— The U.S. is less reliant on foreign sources of energy, and thus is less susceptible to turmoil or uncertainty elsewhere in the world, such as Venezuela’s domestic turmoil and rising tensions between the U.S. and Iran.

“Everything’s kind of holding steady,” Jenkins said, summing up the current outlook for supply and demand.