Dean Newman lives in Georgia but he travels across the Savannah River to work in South Carolina where he said gas is less expensive.


Newman was taking advantage of those lower prices on Thursday as he was filling up at Murphy Express on Richland Avenue in Aiken, where regular unleaded gas was $2.99.


Newman's assessment of the cost of fuel was correct as the AAA Carolinas announced this week that South Carolina had the lowest average gas prices in the country for the second year in a row.


The national average for gas prices in 2013 was $3.49, which AAA reports is 11 cents lower than in 2012. South Carolina's average gas price in 2013 was $3.24 in comparison to $3.35 in 2012.


“Increased refinery capacity, more fuel-efficient vehicles and higher production of North American crude oil helped push prices lower in 2013,” David E. Parsons, president and CEO of AAA Carolinas, stated in a press release. “We expect these trends to continue into 2014.”


Though South Carolina's average fuel costs dropped in 2013, it's still a little more than 60 cents higher than it was in 2011 when it was $2.60.


Earlier this week, some local gas station prices were sitting about 20 cents lower than they were on Thursday. For example, gas stations along East Pine Log Road offered prices as low as $2.88 on Monday but prices jumped to $3.08 in just a few days.


The sudden change in prices could be due to several reasons, according to AAA Spokeswoman Angela Vogel Daley. Competition between gas stations can affect the prices or they are expecting to pay more for their next shipment of fuel, which could also cause the prices to spike, she said.


Vogel said the prices may flatten in the coming weeks since the holiday travel season, which started on Dec. 21, is over and the demand for fuel will likely decrease.


Motorists may see an increase in gas prices in February due to oil refineries conducting annual maintenance in which they reduce capacity during that time.


To locate the lowest gas prices around Aiken County, visit www.aikenstandard.com/local-gas-prices.


Amy Banton is the County reporter for the Aiken Standard. She has been with the publication since May 2010.


She is a native of Rustburg, Va. and a graduate of Randolph-Macon Woman's College.