AAA Oregon/Idaho's weekly Fuel Gauge report Tuesday comes as no surprise to Central Oregonians who've been to or driven the gas pumps: The national and Oregon averages for regular unleaded are up dramatically in the past week.
The national average shoots up 17 cents to $3.53 a gallon, while the Oregon average jumps 16.5 cents to $3.51 a gallon.
"These spikes are the most dramatic one-week jumps in nearly two years, and the 20th-largest weekly increase of the 21st Century,” said AAA Oregon/Idaho Public Affairs Director Marie Dodds.
“The last time gas prices increased more rapidly was Feb. 25 to March 4, 2011, when violence in Northern Africa and the Middle East, most notably in Libya, sent oil and gasoline prices skyrocketing on fears of supply disruption," Dodds said.
The most dramatic one-week increase on record is Aug. 28 to Sept. 4, 2005, when prices rose 46 cents in the days following Hurricane Katrina.
Still, for the second week in a row, the Oregon average is less than the national average -- a rarity in recent years. Before last week, the last time the Oregon average was less than the national average was on May 14, 2011.
The national and Oregon averages are both the highest on record for this calendar day. The national average has exceeded the previous highs set last year and has now set a new daily record for the past six days in a row. Tuesday was the first day the Oregon average has climbed above the year-ago level, Dodds said.
Dodds says this price surge is largely the result of higher crude oil prices and the rise of mid-continent retail gasoline prices, which fell dramatically to end the year and are now swinging back to the upside.
While pump prices in every state have increased over the last week, the increase is most dramatic in the Midwest, California and Colorado, led by jumps of more than 30 cents per gallon in both Indiana and Michigan.
Eleven states have posted a monthly increase of at least 30 cents, and motorists in Indiana (47 cents), Minnesota (46 cents) and Michigan (44 cents) are all paying at least 40 cents more than one month ago.
These regions have seen the most dramatic price increases because of higher regional crude prices and production concerns as refineries prepare to make the conversion to making summer-blend gasoline.
Wholesale gasoline prices on the West Coast have skyrocketed more than 50 cents a gallon since mid-January.
This region is in the middle of the refinery maintenance and turnaround season as the switch to summer gasoline occurs. The rest of the country doesn’t move to the cleaner burning and more expensive summer fuels until late February or March.
The price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI), the traditional U.S. benchmark product, has continued to move higher to begin 2013, and that is also putting upward pressure on pump prices.
At Monday’s close of formal trading on the NYMEX, the price of WTI settled down $1.60 at $96.17 per barrel. Tuesday, it continued to trade around $96. Last week, WTI traded at its most expensive level since September 14. Brent crude, the often cited global benchmark, is trading at about $115 per barrel, near highs last seen in April 2012.
National Average (Regular) Highest Recorded Avg. Price Date
Current $3.533 Regular Unleaded: $4.114 7/17/08
Month Ago $3.299
Year Ago $3.480
Current Week Ago Month Ago Year Ago Avg. Price Date
Oregon Statewide $3.510 $3.345 $3.384 $3.497 $4.294 7/03/08
Portland $3.498 $3.323 $3.371 $3.491 $4.278 6/21/08
Salem $3.520 $3.350 $3.408 $3.495 $4.262 7/08/08