Gasoline prices continue to decline in California and nationally

Gasoline prices continued their free-fall in California this week, with average prices dropping well below $4 a gallon, a government survey showed.

Californians saw the average price of self-serve regular gasoline fall to $3.887 a gallon, down 14.2 cents from a week earlier, the Energy Department said Monday. California’s prices are still higher than this time last year, when the state’s average price was $3.839.

Nationally prices fell in all regions, bringing the U.S. average to $3.437, down 9.6 cents, according to the Energy Department’s weekly survey of service stations. The average is almost 14 cents lower than a year earlier.

Tropical Storm Debby threatened to drive prices up as it shut down 44% of oil production in the Gulf of Mexico over the weekend, but prices managed to stay low into the new week.

The summer decline in prices is in contrast to dire predictions from January, when gas prices were at their highest ever for the start of the year. Analysts had expected prices to rise as the year progressed, especially with higher crude oil prices and limited refinery capacities.

U.S. benchmark crude oil futures continued to fall as well, slipping 55 cents to $79.21 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In London, Brent crude rose 3 cents to $91.01 a barrel.