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Is oil really cheaper than water? Depends where you shop

If falling prices at the pump have you asking if gasoline will soon be cheaper than water, depending on where you live, that could be the case very soon.

The current nationwide average for a gallon of gas is $1.965, according to the latest AAA Fuel Gauge report. But in some states, such as Oklahoma, Missouri and South Carolina, lower fuel taxes mean average prices are 20 to 30 cents a gallon cheaper.

Factor out those taxes, and the price per ounce of gas is very near the cost of water.

Take Oklahoma as an example. The price for a gallon of gas Monday morning at Sam's Club in Oklahoma City stood at $1.47 a gallon, according to Subtract the 35.4 cents in state taxes levied on every gallon of gasoline and the price stands at about $1.12, or 0.87 cents a fluid ounce -- less than a penny an ounce.

Meanwhile, the per-ounce cost Dasani water works to be 0.74 cents, based on a purchase price of $3.98 for 32 16.9-ounce bottles at the same Sam's Club store, according to the club's website.

Consumers in every state across the country are seeing lower prices at the pump, except in California, where a refinery outage means drivers are seeing higher prices than a year ago, according to the Energy Information Administration. Nationwide, though, consumers are paying on average 19 cents less a gallon than they did a year ago, the agency said in its latest weekly report.

Falling crude prices also means home heating oil is much cheaper than in recent years. Homeowners are paying well below $2 a gallon for heating oil in many places in the Northeast, where oil remains a major heating source, compared to the $3.80 or $4 (and even more) a gallon many were paying just two winters ago.

Lots of consumers hope cheap oil is here to stay. And for the near term, anyway, they're likely to get their wish. Falling demand and steady production combined with disarray among OPEC members means the flood of oil that's sitting in the world's storehouses is likely to stick around.

The tumbling price of crude, however, has the energy sector in disarray that have included massive job cuts. On Friday, the Labor Department reported the nation added a robust 290,000 jobs, but the report also noted that mining shed 8,000 jobs for a total loss of 129,000 positions for the year, mostly attributable to the falling price of oil.

More losses are expected. Oilfield services provider Schlumberger (SLM), which last month announced another round of layoffs in addition to the 20,000 cuts already reported in 2015, said it expected the slowdown in drilling activity to continue this year.

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