DOE: Avg Gasoline Price Fell 11 Cents After Katrina Surge

The average retail nationwide gasoline price fell sharply in the latest week to $2.955 a gallon, one week after surging nearly 50 cents a gallon following Hurricane Katrina (search), the U.S. government said Monday.

The national average pump price for regular unleaded gasoline fell 11.4 cents, according to a weekly survey of more than 800 service stations by the Energy Information Administration (search) (EIA). The new weekly price is $1.109 per gallon higher than one year ago.

When adjusted for inflation, the most expensive price at the pump was $3.12 a gallon in March 1981.

Crude oil and gasoline prices have surged this year due to high demand, tight refinery capacity and lost production in the Gulf of Mexico following Hurricane Katrina.

U.S. crude for October delivery Monday settled at $63.34 a barrel, down 74 cents on the NYMEX (search), extending last week's losses amid speculation that lower demand would offset the impact of reduced offshore oil output and refinery production.

Crude oil, responsible for abut half the cost of a gallon of gasoline, hit a record high of $70.85 a barrel on Aug. 30, one day after Katrina hit the U.S. Gulf Coast with winds of up to 140 miles per hour.

The government's weekly retail report showed prices in the five U.S. regions fell between 2.8 cents and 14.6 cents a gallon.

The average U.S. pump price was highest on the East Coast, which decreased by 14.0 cents, sending pump prices to $3.057 per gallon.

The Gulf Coast region, where many refineries battered by Katrina are located, had the cheapest gasoline at $2.810 a gallon during the last week, down 10.4 cents, EIA said.

Among the 10 major urban areas highlighted by EIA, Houston pump prices were the cheapest at $2.862 per gallon, down 11.4 cents. The most expensive cities were New York, where prices fell 8.8 cents to $3.188, and Boston, where costs dipped 9.9 cents to $3.108.

The national price for cleaner-burning reformulated gasoline, sold at about one-third of the stations in cities and smoggier areas, fell 9.2 cents to $3.045 a gallon.

U.S. truckers saw retail diesel prices fall 5.1 cents to an average $2.847 per gallon last week, EIA said. The average cost for a gallon of diesel is 97.3 cents per gallon higher than it was one year ago.