MAINZ, Germany — It may not be much of a kick in the pocketbook, but AAFES gas pump prices are due to drop by a penny and a half per gallon beginning Tuesday, exchange officials said Thursday.

Motorists in Germany, England and the Netherlands will benefit from the lower prices, which are adjusted the first of every month. Pump prices in Turkey and the Azores are revised contractually every autumn.

The nominal drop “is better than a kick in the head,” said Maj. Mitch Edgar, spokesman for the Army and Air Force Exchange Service in Europe.

Indeed it is.

But the price of a gallon of gas, which dropped by a dime last month, is still about 10 to 15 cents higher than what it was at the beginning of the year, or, for that matter, what it was for the same month last year.

In January, for example, a gallon of super unleaded gas cost $1.63 in Germany and the Netherlands. That same gallon and grade now runs $1.78.

The price difference only begins to tell the story. From February to April, the price of unleaded gas rose by roughly a quarter. Since then, the price has steadily dropped to its current rate.

“It’s been up and down this year,” said Ruth Wagner, a senior retail business manager for AAFES-Europe.

Wagner, in part, attributes the roller-coaster ride to the war in Iraq. Since early spring, when major combat operations in Iraq began to wind down, pump prices have steadily dropped.

Will the slide continue?

Tom Wilmoth handles gas pricing at AAFES headquarters in Dallas.

“There is no predicting gas prices,” he said in a telephone interview Thursday. “I wouldn’t begin to predict.”

Neither would Wagner.

The furthest out she or anyone else would be willing forecast is next Tuesday — when the new rates kick in.

For motorists, the new rates are as follows:

• In Germany, unleaded fuel $1.69 per gallon; super unleaded, $1.78; super unleaded plus, $1.87; and diesel, $1.62.

• In England, super unleaded, $1.72; for the higher-grade fuel, $1.81; and diesel, $1.56.

• In the Netherlands, super unleaded, $1.78; super unleaded plus, $1.89; and diesel, $1.62.

AAFES bases its monthly rates on a four-week average of prices in the United States as tracked by the Department of Energy. The average amounts are then adjusted to reflect AAFES’ operating expenses and fuel delivery costs.

Edgar, the AAFES spokesman, said pump prices in the summer traditionally go up, so the decrease in prices over the past couple of months is a good thing as more Americans take to the roads of Europe to see what they can see.

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