Despite oil’s fall, N.H. gasoline still flirting with $4

News outlets nationally and in New Hampshire have been reporting the largest percentage drop in oil prices the markets have seen since 2008, with the lower prices at the pump expected to follow.In fact, many analysts have predicted that the cost of gasoline could drop to $3.75 per gallon by Memorial Day weekend, and to $3.50 by July.Apparently the analysts forgot to tell local gas stations.Indeed, while Tuesday’s oil prices hovered at about $103 per barrel — a drop of 15 percent in recent days — those lower oil per-barrel prices have yet to translate to lower prices at local filling stations.Tuesday’s prices in metro Manchester were still the highest seen in years, running about $3.92 per gallon, up 2 cents from just a week ago and more than 30 cents higher than in April, according to the American Automobile Association. Diesel is still well over $4 a gallon.The highest prices in New Hampshire were recorded in mid-July 2008, when gas was $4.023 per gallon and diesel was $4.795 per gallon.News of the expected fuel price drop comes at an interesting time. May is typically when consumers are urged to consider “locking in” a price of heating fuel for the next heating season – roughly October through April. But consumers might just want to wait.Heating oil prices are running at about the same level as gas — about $3.95 per gallon, as recorded on May 4 by the New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning.A more real-time picture looks a little brighter, with prices as of Tuesday running about $3.60 to $3.70 on average throughout most of the state, according to Energy Data Corp., an independent pricing aggregator featuring information supplied by vendors.Despite predictions of cheap gas and oil around the corner, flooding along the Mississippi River – and anticipated temporary shutdown of refineries there – might temper that drop, along with the now-customary volatility of this commodity.Analysts also are saying any decreases in fuel prices are more of a correction than a long-term trend. – CINDY KIBBE/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

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