CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WCIV) -- Drivers in South Carolina paid the lowest average price in the country for the second year in a row, according to research from AAA Carolinas.
South Carolina's average of $3.24 per gallon in 2013 is the state's lowest average in three years, a drop of 11 cents from 2012 and 7 cents from 2011, AAA said.
In 2012, average gas prices in the state were $2.60.
"Increased refinery capacity, more fuel-efficient vehicles and higher production of North American crude oil helped push prices lower in 2013," said David E. Parsons, president and CEO of AAA Carolinas. "We expect these trends to continue into 2014."
As the year began in 2013, gas prices across the Palmetto State average $3.15 per gallon. The peak came almost two months later at $3.62 on Feb. 22. The lowest prices of the year fell on Nov. 14 when prices dipped to $3.03.
According to AAA, Charleston had the highest price of any metro at $3.29. The lowest was in the Greenville/Spartanburg area.
The national average for 2013 was $3.49, down 11 cents from $3.60 in 2012. California had the highest in the continental U.S. at $3.89, AAA said.
Gas prices in South Carolina started 2014 at $3.12, which is three cents lower than the $3.15 average for Jan. 1, 2013. AAA says the prices are expected to remain low through January due to decreased demand but typically rise in February as refineries conduct seasonal maintenance.
Overall, gas prices are expected to average slightly less in 2014 as refineries continue to expand production capacity and increasingly rely on North American crude oil.