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Esso, the lone supplier of fuels to the Army and Air Force Exchange Service in Germany, has announced that it will stop supplying regular unleaded gasoline to the exchange after the New Year, according to AAFES.

Midgrade — also known as super — will become the cheapest gas available to Americans in the country.

For many locales where U.S. troops are based, the decision will be felt almost immediately.

"Esso has announced that on January 1, 2009, they will stop delivering Unleaded Regular Gasoline to AAFES facilities throughout Germany," according to an AAFES news release issued Tuesday.

AAFES stations in Mannheim, Ramstein, Sembach, Baumholder, Kaiserslautern and Landstuhl will continue to receive deliveries until supplies are exhausted, the release stated.

"Upon exhaustion of Unleaded Regular Gasoline, AAFES facilities will only carry Super and Super Plus unleaded fuels," according to AAFES.

In the U.S., midgrade gas typically costs about 13 cents more per gallon than regular, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which tracks prices weekly. AAFES prices in Germany are generally — though not always — a reflection of U.S. prices.

Motorists in Germany soon won’t be able to find regular gas off base either. Germans have already seen regular pulled from the pumps at some locations, and elsewhere prices for regular gas have been hiked up to match the price of midgrade.

Officials from Esso, based in Hamburg, Germany, could not be reached Tuesday for comment on the decision. Consumer groups, however, have decried the change.

"We at the German Automobile Club are not happy at all about the fact that regular gas is taken from the market," said Maximilian Maurer, a spokesman for German auto club ADAC. "There are still millions of older cars in Germany that could use regular gas without any problems, but instead the car owners are forced to gas up their cars with super gas or pay the same money for regular gas that one has to pay for super."

There were no changes to German law that required fuel companies to phase out regular gas, Maurer said. Higher grades of gas are no more environmentally friendly than regular, he said, but super gas is better for certain newer engines, he said. "That is all."

Stars and Stripes’ Marcus Klöckner contributed to this report.

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