Montana has the lowest average price at the pump in the country heading into the new year.

The statewide average price per gallon of regular, unleaded fuel is $3.01. That’s 31 cents less than the national average.

In Bozeman, the cheapest regular gas is available at Costco and Smith’s for $2.88 a gallon, according to Most other gas stations in Bozeman are $2.91 a gallon.

“The Rocky Mountain states have been experiencing lower gas prices than the national average recently,” AAA spokeswoman Kaelyn Kelly said in a prepared statement. “In 2013, Montana hit its lowest price of the year of $2.99 per gallon on Jan. 27. It will be interesting to see if the downward trend in prices in the state continues into January like it did last year.”

The national average price per gallon in 2013 was the third highest on record, but the lowest since 2010 at $3.49 a gallon.

Gas should be cheaper in 2014 as refineries continue to expand production capacity and increasingly rely on North American crude oil. Increased refinery capacity and domestic oil production should provide a supply cushion that helps limit dramatic price spikes caused by supply and demand.

“Gas prices should average slightly less in 2014 if everything goes as expected, but most drivers may not even notice because the difference could be relatively small,” AAA fuel price analyst Avery Ash said in a prepared statement. “But there are no guarantees when it comes to gas prices. There will remain an outside chance of paying higher prices due to unexpected global events or significant economic growth.”

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