Navy Lt. Sharon Quallio, of the Branch Health Clinic, Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan, fills her tank Thursday at the Yokosuka Naval Base Autoport.

Navy Lt. Sharon Quallio, of the Branch Health Clinic, Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan, fills her tank Thursday at the Yokosuka Naval Base Autoport. (David J. Carter / S&S)

Gasoline prices will drop precipitously on Saturday at military pumps in mainland Japan and on Okinawa.

The cost of midgrade unleaded, which had been stuck at $2.43 a gallon since late November, is falling more than 65 cents to $1.767, the Army and Air Force Exchange Service announced Thursday. The latest adjustment puts the price in both areas well below the Department of Energy’s nationwide average, which was $1.954 earlier this week.

"I’m glad it’s finally catching up with the States," said Chief Petty Officer Shawn Wright, a USS George Washington sailor at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan. "It will be nice for all of the families around here."

There was no change at AAFES stations in South Korea, where regular unleaded remains $1.93 a gallon and premium $2.16.

On Guam, prices are down a penny across the board, with regular unleaded moving to $2.019, midgrade gas slipping to $2.129 and premium decreasing to $2.249 per gallon.

AAFES sets its retail fuel prices weekly based on a Department of Energy average from the most recent reports. It also factors in incremental costs that can vary widely in each country.

If it costs AAFES more to buy and provide gas overseas than it does in the United States, pump prices are set at the "floor" level, or wholesale plus dispensing costs.

In those instances, prices in the Pacific region would be higher than in the States.

But as of Sunday, the wholesale costs from the Defense Energy Support Center, its fuel supplier, will be lowered, according to Jeff Craven, a spokesman at AAFES Pacific Region headquarters on Okinawa.

"As a result, we were able to set this price based on DOE averages" in mainland Japan and Okinawa, he said.

The Navy Exchange has an agreement to keep its prices in line with AAFES at overseas pumps in Japan and Guam.

"It took long enough," said Petty Officer 2nd Class Alex Wiggins, who spends about 30 minutes a day commuting to Yokosuka. "It’s a relief to see it finally going down."

At Yokota Air Base, Japan, on Thursday, customers at the AAFES main gas station also thought the sharp decrease was long overdue.

"The price was around $2.30 in New Jersey, and we were still paying $4 a few months ago. That was garbage," said Tech. Sgt. Chris Wooley of the 730th Air Mobility Squadron. "I hadn’t heard, but it’s about time. … Nobody wants to spend more money if they don’t have to."

Master Sgt. Tony Myers of the 374th Maintenance Squadron fills up his tank only about once a month but said the change "takes me back to my high school days."

"It’s definitely more reasonable, since the price of a barrel of oil has dropped so much. Around the holidays, I also saw the prices in the States, and they were much lower than here," he said. "But $1.76 — you shouldn’t hear too many complaints from people."

Stars and Stripes reporter David Carter contributed to this story.

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