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Gasoline pumps sit full of customers at the Ingles Gas Express on Carbon City Road in Morganton on Tuesday. The station was one of six in Burke County offering gas at $1.77 per gallon on Tuesday, according to the GasBuddy mobile application.

Gasoline prices in North Carolina fell 11.3 cents per gallon more in the past week, dropping below a $2 average, and analysis says the tumble isn’t stopping anytime soon.

Petroleum analysis outlet GasBuddy’s weekly report issued Monday said the state’s average price for regular gas from a survey of 6,092 stations stands at $1.90 per gallon, and that remained static as of Tuesday. The past week’s decline followed a 12.2-cents drop the previous week.

The COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic is cited as the main factor behind the drop.

“Gas prices have spent virtually all of March marching lower, with the drop continuing as the coronavirus destroys oil demand globally, leading to the lowest oil prices we’ve seen in 18 years, paving the way for still an additional 35-75 cent per gallon drop at most stations in the weeks ahead,” said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy, in the report. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a collapse in prices, even including the Great Recession.

“What we’re witnessing is easily going to go down as the great collapse in oil demand, and for motorists hurrying to fill up today, they’re wasting their money as prices will continue to drop in the days ahead. Gas stations are passing along the drop several weeks behind, and there’s plenty more room for prices to drop, putting 99-cents-per-gallon prices as a strong possibility for perhaps many more stations than we previously anticipated. This is truly an unprecedented turn of events.”

According to the GasBuddy mobile application, the lowest price in Burke County (average of $1.89 per gallon) on Tuesday was $1.77, available at the Gate and Walmart Neighborhood Market on North Green Street, the Murphy Express on West Fleming Drive, the Ingles Gas Express and Quality Plus on Carbon City Road, and the Space on N.C. Highway 181.

In McDowell County (average of $1.68), prices continued to be even lower with the Murphy Express and Pilot stations on Sugar Hill Road sitting at $1.58 per gallon, and the Love’s Travel Stops station just off Interstate 40 Exit 86 on N.C. Highway 226 at $1.61.

North Carolina fuel prices are 38 cents lower than one month ago and 57.3 cents lower than one year ago, the report said. The cheapest price in the state Monday was $1.35 per gallon and the highest $3.09.

In Charlotte, prices fell 11.4 cents per gallon in the past week from $2.04 to $1.92. In Greensboro, the drop was 14.2 cents from $2.01 to $1.86. And in Fayetteville, the decline was 9.8 cents from $2.03 to $1.93.

Nationally, the average price fell 12.8 cents per gallon in the past week to $2.08. That figure is 38.5 cents down from last month and 54.7 cents lower than last year. GasBuddy reported on Thursday that the first station in the continental United States to hit $0.99 per gallon was a BP in London, Ky.

“Absolutely amazing to see how quickly prices have fallen, and the return of something few Americans have seen since the early 2000s,” DeHaan said. “We’re in uncharted waters due to demand plummeting in light of the coronavirus situation, and (last Wednesday), oil prices fell to their lowest level since 2002 in a sign of the deep distress our economy is facing.”

Despite the low prices, Visit North Carolina is discouraging people from traveling. A COVID-19 advisory on the website says North Carolina is strongly urging residents and visitors to take precautions relating to the coronavirus, including social distancing and avoiding nonessential travel.

The advisory added: “All visitor centers, campground areas and picnic shelters at North Carolina state parks are closed until further notice (trails remain open), with various state parks (plus Great Smoky Mountains National Park) closing completely. And North Carolina’s nine welcome centers are closed until April 1.”

North Carolina locations with coronavirus-related restrictions currently in place include Atlantic Beach, Bald Head Island, Brunswick County, the Currituck County and Dare County portions of the Outer Banks, Emerald Isle, Jackson County, New Hanover County beaches, North Topsail Beach, Oak Island, Ocracoke, Pitt County, Surf City, Swain County, Topsail Beach and Wake County.

In cases where travel is absolutely necessary, Visit North Carolina asks folks to abide by the following “common-sense recommendations” from the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services:

» Avoid air travel and crowds if at higher risk.

» Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing nose, coughing or sneezing; going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food.

» If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

» Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.

» Avoid close contact with people who are ill.

» Cover mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing and throw it away. If no tissue, cough or sneeze into upper sleeve, not hands.

» If feeling well, it is not necessary to wear a face mask. Face masks are most effective when used by people who are already ill to prevent them from spreading viruses and other germs.

NOTES: According to GasBuddy’s historical data, in North Carolina, this week’s average gas prices were $2.47 in 2019 and 2018, $2.19 in 2017, $1.92 in 2016, $2.28 in 2015, $3.42 in 2014, $3.65 in 2013, $3.83 in 2012, $3.52 in 2011 and $2.77 in 2010. Across the U.S., those averages were $2.63 in 2019, $2.60 in 2018, $2.29 in 2017, $1.99 in 2016, $2.42 in 2015, $3.53 in 2014, $3.68 in 2013, $3.89 in 2012, $3.55 in 2011 and $2.80 in 2010.

Justin Epley can be reached at jepley@morganton.com or 828-432-8943.

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