FARMINGTON — Local drivers are getting an unexpected bonus this spring — gas prices have retreated, reversing the usual trend for this time of year.

Motorists in every state are paying less than they were a year ago. And the decline is forecast to continue.

In New Mexico, average retail fuel prices fell to $3.46 per gallon for regular gasoline on Friday, down from $3.80 a year earlier. Diesel also dropped to $4.01 per gallon, down from $4.17 at the same date in 2012, according to the motorist association AAA.

Farmington could benefit from an uptick in summer tourism if consumers feel free from the psychological impact of rising prices.

"Anytime gas prices go down, it's always a help," said Tonya Stinson, executive director of the Farmington Convention and Visitors Bureau. "There's a perception that you have more money to spend."

The bureau is planning to market the local area with radio ads in southern New Mexico and west Texas early this summer to encourage drive-market tourism.

"We feel like we need to let people around the state know to check out the northwest corner," Stinson said. "We're hoping lower gas prices will help in those efforts."

AAA does not publish gas prices for Farmington. But several local stations were advertising $3.53 per gallon on Friday. Smith's, a discount station, was advertising $3.41.

Elsewhere in the state, gas prices averaged $3.38 in Las Cruces, $3.42 in Albuquerque and $3.44 in Santa Fe, according to AAA.

In Durango, Colo., gas prices slipped to $3.


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52 per gallon, down from $3.60 a month ago. A year ago, gas cost $3.88 per gallon in Durango.

The lower prices are a change from earlier this year, when prices surged.

Avery Ash, a AAA analyst, said gas prices had moved in the opposite direction of crude oil prices.

"The recent decline following the dramatic rise has not been a product of lower crude oil prices, which have actually increased during this stretch," Ash said in a weekly forecast. "Falling retail gas prices have instead been the result of an increase in refinery production and economic concerns, which have raised demand concerns."

Gas prices are expected to continue falling throughout the nation. The U.S. Energy Information Administration projects pump prices to fall from $3.69 in May to $3.57 in September.

Diesel prices are forecast to decline slightly in the U.S., down 1 cent to $3.94 per gallon this summer.

Chuck Slothower can be reached at 505-564-4638; cslothower@daily-times.com. Follow him on Twitter www.twitter.com.DTChuck.