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This is the time of year when prices at the pump start to climb. But just the opposite is happening in the Garden State.

According to Tom Kloza, chief analyst at the Oil Price Information Service, the trend is due to a drop in the price of crude oil in the United States.

He said the price of crude had been in the $50 to $55 a barrel range, but those numbers have gone down because of a supply surplus.

“Despite the fact that most banks and investment advisors are bullish on the marketplace, the market has delivered a blow, and we’re talking about $48 crude instead of $58 crude right now,” he said.

According to Kloza prices at the pump may drop a bit further in the next few days, but it’s important to keep in mind “gasoline prices are going to move higher, they’re just not going to move higher right away. Usually they start to move higher during spring training. Maybe now it’ll take until the start of the season.”

He explained, “you have to flush the winter gasoline out of the system and that’s going to take place in the next four or five weeks. And then you make way for more expensive summer gasoline.”

So how low will it go before prices begin to climb?

Kloza said some Jersey service stations are selling gas at $2.06 or $2.07, and “we may see more of those numbers, close to $2 in the next week or so. But then it’ll change and I fully expect that prices will be higher 30 and 60 days from now.”

“I think in New Jersey we’re looking at prices certainly in the $2.50 to $2.75 range for most of the second quarter.”

“To get above that, it’s going to take something in terms of a crude oil disruption overseas, or some refinery problems and I don’t really expect that to happen.”

Last year at this time the average price for a gallon of unleaded regular in New Jersey was $1.70.

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