By Doug Ireland
---- — Gasoline prices have dropped 19 cents in New Hampshire and 23 cents in Massachusetts in only a month, but people gassing up at the pumps yesterday remained pessimistic.
They know that in a blink of an eye, prices could skyrocket again. After all, gas prices in New Hampshire were, on average, 41 cents higher at this time last year.
A series of damaging storms across the country and problems at some of the nation’s top refineries a year ago prompted the price hike, according to Gregg Laskoski, an analyst with GasBuddy.com.
Tensions in the Middle East — a major petroleum source — have subsided, he said. Unrest in Egypt and Syria caused prices to increase substantially this summer.
But prices have dropped 4 cents a gallon in the past week in both New Hampshire and Massachusetts, and will continue to drop — even through Columbus Day weekend, Laskoski said.
Consumers aren’t convinced they’re getting a good deal at the pumps.
Ron Love of Salem, filling up at Salem Express on South Broadway yesterday, said the prices were still too high.
“These are not low gas prices,” he said. “I’m not happy with $3.39.”
Jared Marsh, 20, of Plaistow agreed.
“No, it’s still a lot,” he said.
GasBuddy.com tracks daily gasoline prices at 875 retailers in New Hampshire, where the average price yesterday was $3.44 a gallon for regular gas. The national average was $3.38 per gallon.
The average price for a gallon of regular was $3.43 per gallon in Massachusetts, according to AAA. They averaged $3.88 a gallon a year ago.
Kellie Farrington, 41, of Hampstead, was happy with the price drop.
“I definitely noticed,” she said. “It’s nice to see the prices have been coming down.”
In late July, the average price was $3.71 a gallon in the Bay State as the state Legislature was in the midst of raising the gas tax by 3 cents a gallon and tying future increases to inflation.
So far this year, there have been no major problems at refineries and no serious storms that would increase prices, Laskoski said. Tropical Storm Karen also did not prove to be as serious as predicted, Laskoski said.
“We have been able to avoid weather events that have the potential to create tremendous spikes in prices,” he said.
Last October, fuel prices surged in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, which wreaked havoc along the East Coast. New York and New Jersey were particularly hard hit.
Southern New Hampshire residents filling up at the pumps in Salem yesterday were pleased with the drop in prices, but questioned how long they would continue to decline. None of those interviewed knew how much money they were saving.
That includes Gary Blydenburgh, 41, of Salem. He was filling up at Salem Express. The price for a gallon of regular was $3.39.
“I’ll believe it when I see it,” he said of future prices decreases. “It’s like playing the lottery whenever you fill up the tank.”
Billy Phu, 38, of Salem was also a bit pessimistic.
“It fluctuates — gas goes up and down, he said. “But when you add it up, gas is up.”
Paul Anthony, 56, Derry, also wasn’t convinced.
“Eventually, it will go up again,” he said of prices.
But Vicky Payne, 48, of Derry, was happy.
“I love it,” she said. “The more it goes down, the better.”