Despite a local refinery having shut down operations, gas prices in Utah have fallen 3 cents in the past month.

Tuesday's average for a gallon of regular unleaded cost $2.61, according to AAA Utah. The national average was $2.63.

On Nov. 14, Silver Eagle Refining in Woods Cross voluntarily stopped its operations following a explosion 10 days before, when hydrogen and diesel leaked from a pipe and ignited. The refinery and the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board are working to verify that all the equipment is safe.

Since the Silver Eagle refinery is one of only five refineries in Utah, the Utah Petroleum Association warned that gas prices could rise as a result. But that never materialized. Demand for gas has been down, and supplies are robust.

Citing federal government figures, AAA Utah said that Americans are consuming only about 19 million barrels of oil a day, compared to all-time highs in 2005 of 21 million barrels a day.

"Overall, gasoline prices have been very stable since the end of October, and now most prices have fallen by a few cents since the start of November," AAA Utah spokesperson Rolayne Fairclough said in a prepared statement. "Given the roller-coaster ride Utah consumers have faced in 2009, a modest, steady decline at the gas pump is a welcome change."

AAA Utah surveys a handful of communities across the state. Individual gas stations could sell fuel at higher and lower prices. AAA's report focuses on self-serve regular gas without regard to octane level.

The $2.61 per gallon price was a statewide average, and prices vary in different metro areas.

In Salt Lake City, the average price for gas was $2.56, a 3-cent drop from last month. Provo's average price was $2.59, down a penny. In Ogden, prices fell 6 cents to $2.50. Moab's was $2.69, down a nickel. The St. George average was $2.73, and Vernal's was $2.64, both holding steady from last month.

Twenty-four states have prices higher than in Utah.

On Tuesday, benchmark crude for January delivery dropped $1.31 to settle at $72.62 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In London, Brent crude for January delivery fell $1.24 to settle at $75.19 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.

Oil is traded in U.S. dollars, and the dollar has strengthened in value, which causes oil prices to drop. Also, investors were acting on a slew of economic data that showed the rebound will not cause a quick demand in energy.

Contributing: Associated Press

e-mail: [email protected]