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NAPLES, Italy — Gas prices in Italy will drop 68 cents a gallon for unleaded fuel next month.

But with Italy prices remaining at more than $3 a gallon, they still are considerably higher than the stateside average, and still higher than what fellow troops pay for unleaded fuel in Germany and in the Pacific region.

The price dip, which goes into effect for the December coupons, will be accompanied by a decrease of 60 cents a gallon for diesel, said Bart Di Muccio, administrator of the Tax-Free Office, which runs the gas coupon program in Italy.

"Whoa girl, now that’s what I’m talking about!" said Kifornee Welch, who owns a 2006 H3 Hummer. When asked how much it costs her to fill up monthly, she answered: "I have an instant headache."

With December prices, it would cost Welch about $68 to fill up the tank of her Hummer, which gets an estimated 14 miles per gallon when driving in the city.

The cost for a 100-liter book for unleaded drops from $104 to $86, which translates to about $3.25 a gallon. A 100-liter book for diesel drops from $121 to $105, or about $3.97 a gallon.

"This decrease is due to a decrease in the cost of oil and the dollar gaining strength against the euro," Di Muccio said. "That has been the biggest impact."

The stateside average for unleaded fuel is $1.89, and regular unleaded fuel in Germany sells this week for $2.527.

On bases in mainland Japan and Okinawa, the Army and Air Force Exchange Service is dropping its price for midgrade unleaded gas Friday for the first time since it shot up to $4.06 per gallon in July.

The price for a gallon of midgrade unleaded will be pegged at $2.43, a $1.63 decrease, AAFES announced Tuesday. Prices at Navy Exchanges follow those set by AAFES.

Welch said she rarely drives her Hummer anymore.

"Because gas has been so high, I drive my little Italian car (an Alfa Romeo) and my husband drives his motorcycle," she said.

The fact that overseas members pay more than those living in the States doesn’t bother Petty Officer 2nd Class Gary Bromm.

"It’s about time the fuel prices dropped. We’re all in a state of relief," he said.

With the recent dip in the cost-of-living allowance doled out to troops, he was pleased to hear that the fuel costs were following suit.

"That’s OK that we’re paying more. We’re collecting a COLA that they aren’t, and that helps offset the higher cost," said the Naples-based sailor. "But when the COLA was dropping but the fuel prices weren’t, that’s what made it hard."

Coupon prices in Italy are set once a month by the Tax-Free Office and determined by the barrel cost of fuel, the dollar-to-euro exchange rate, and any financial gains or losses from the previous month. Di Muccio said differences in agreements between the U.S. government and other NATO nations means fuel costs shouldn’t be compared.

A contract between the U.S. Navy in Italy, the Italian government and the two oil supplying companies prohibits the Navy from setting gas prices based on stateside averages, as is done by AAFES.

However, there is no minimum price motorists in Italy can be charged, Di Muccio added, drawing a comparison to the policy AAFES uses when setting fuel costs. AAFES sets prices weekly by adding the cost of running the program to the average U.S. price for fuel.

But AAFES prices cannot fall below "floor," or at a price that is at or close to cost.

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