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Taking its lead from the rest of the Intermountain West, Utah registered the lowest gasoline price in the country Tuesday, with its average of $2.90 a gallon marking a drop of more than 50 cents since last month.

Several stations in the Salt Lake Valley have pump prices below $2.55 a gallon this week.

The average price for regular unleaded was 2 cents lower than on Monday (when the state had the nation's second-lowest price, behind Wyoming), 10 cents lower than a week ago and a full 40 cents lower than the national average, according to the travel services company AAA Utah.

Five other states reported averages below $3 a gallon, including neighboring Wyoming and Colorado, both at $2.92, and Idaho, $2.98 (Oklahoma and Minnesota were the other two).

In fact, according to the search website, a higher percentage of stations in the Rocky Mountain region have been selling gas at or below $3 for the past several days than any other area of the country.

Motorists can bless (or blame) the relentless cycle of supply and demand for the late Christmas present.

"We have high prices in summer and some of the lowest prices in the winter," said Rolayne Fairclough, spokeswoman for AAA Utah. "It has to do with demand going down. It's a traditional cycle that we usually see."

The region's lower prices also can be attributed to healthy gasoline inventories, the availability of cheap Canadian crude and refineries that operate exceptionally well, said Gregg Laskoski, senior petroleum analyst at

On Tuesday, all of the Utah cities tracked by AAA reported price decreases of at least 45 cents month-over-month.

Salt Lake City and Logan saw the biggest declines, 56 cents. Ogden had the smallest, 45 cents.

Nationally, Tuesday's average of $3.30 a gallon was a cent higher than a week ago and only a nickle lower than a month ago.

"The Rockies region is doing very well, as they are insulated from the higher price of West Texas Intermediate crude oil and can capitalize on the less expensive crude from Canada," Patrick DeHaan, a analyst, said in a statement. —

Gas prices in Utah

Tuesday • $2.90

Week ago • $3

Month ago • $3.42

Year ago • $2.92

Record high • $4.22 (July 18, 2008)

National averages

Tuesday • $3.30

Week ago • $3.29

Month ago • $3.35

Year ago • $3.37

Record high • $4.11 ( July 17, 2008) —

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