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Coast has some of lowest gas prices in nation

AAA FUEL GAUGE GRAPHIC 
 The price of gas bottomed out in Mississippi and the country in February and despite its steady climb since, remains well below a year ago.
AAA FUEL GAUGE GRAPHIC The price of gas bottomed out in Mississippi and the country in February and despite its steady climb since, remains well below a year ago.

Mississippi and Texas have the lowest average gasoline prices in the country Tuesday at an average of $2.09 a gallon -- and the price in South Mississippi was even lower at $2.06.

Those who hit the road for the Memorial Day Weekend found gasoline prices in the Biloxi-Gulfport-Pascagoula metropolitan area that were 39 cents below this time last year. The price on May 31, 2015 in South Mississippi was $2.45 a gallon, according to AAA Fuel Gauge.

The Gulf Coast remains home to the nation's lowest gas prices, AAA said Tuesday, and the area continues to weather the impacts of reduced production from refineries conducting unplanned maintenance.

That can all change with one named storm.

"As the 2016 Atlantic Hurricane Season gets underway, attention will be focused on this region because it is home to over 45 percent of the U.S.'s total petroleum refining capacity," according to AAA's latest report. "Severe weather can disrupt operations in this region, which can lead to shortages in supply, and historically we have seen this lead to spikes in the price at the pump nationwide."

Although the cost of gas is up from a month ago, when the price on the Coast was $1.98, it remains well below the average over the last five years. According to GasBuddy.com historical data, here is the average price in Mississippi on May 31:

Year cost  change

2016 $2.09 -

2015 $2.43 + $.34

2014 $3.40 + $1.31

2013 $3.25 + $1.16

2012 $3.30 + 1.21

2011 $3.54 + $1.45

"What a start to the summer driving season. The lowest gasoline prices in 11 years are greeting motorists hitting the road this summer," said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy. "Going forward, much of the country will spend much of the summer in the twos for both gasoline and diesel."

While consumers benefit from the lower prices, it has hit energy stock hard. The Associated Press reported on Tuesday Benchmark U.S. crude oil fell 23 cents to $49.10 a barrel in New York. Chevron stock fell $1.21, or 1.2 percent, to $100.81 and Exxon Mobil shed $1.11, or 1.2 percent, to $88.90.

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