Oregon gas prices soaring, AAA reports

Up 16 cents in a month; No. 2 rise in U.S.

PORTLAND, Ore. - While retail gas prices across the country were relatively stable for most of the past month, Oregon pump prices recorded the second-highest increase of any state, AAA Oregon-Idaho reported Tuesday.

AAA Oregon/Idaho Public Affairs Manager Matthew Conde said, “For the week, the national average falls two cents to $2.29 a gallon, while Oregon’s average jumps seven cents to $2.68.  Overall, Oregon’s gas prices have increased by 16 cents in the past month.”

Oregon is one of 14 states to see prices rise week-over-week. The largest weekly increases are in Utah (+9 cents) and Oregon (+7).

Oregon is also one of 23 states to see prices increase in the last month. The largest monthly increases are in Utah (+17 cents) and Oregon (+16 cents). The Oregon average is sixteen cents more than a month ago while the national average is one cent more. The biggest monthly decrease is in Maine (-6 cents).

OPEC’s November agreement reduced crude oil production by 1.8 million barrels per day, which disrupted some of the fuel savings typically seen during the winter season. But American production ramped up to more than offset the group’s actions, calming pump prices ahead of the upcoming switch to more-expensive summer-blend fuel.

That switch has already occurred at most of the regional refineries in the Pacific Northwest, while maintenance work continues at Phillips 66’s 107,500 barrel per day refinery in Ferndale, Washington. Regional crude inputs have dropped by 44,000 barrels per day due to this and other recent refinery work, and the combination of reduced supply and higher production cost has applied upward pressure on fuel prices in Oregon.

West Coast gas prices consistently rank among the highest in the country, with five states landing on the top ten list of most expensive markets this week. Hawaii is most expensive at $3.07, and at $3, California recently became the second state to reach that mark this year.  Washington, Alaska and Oregon round out the top five most expensive states, with Oregon in fifth place for the second week in a row.

“On the national scene, gas prices in some regions may experience a little turbulence over the next few weeks depending on how quickly the remaining winter-blend fuel clears the supply chain,” Conde said. “Once that process is complete, a seasonal price increase generally follows the higher demand for fuel in the spring and summer months.  Oregon has experienced an unfortunate head start on higher gas prices, but other states are likely to follow.”

The nation’s top five least expensive markets are: South Carolina ($2.03), Tennessee ($2.05), Alabama ($2.05), Mississippi ($2.07) and Missouri ($2.09). For the 13th week in a row, no states have averages below $2 a gallon.

Drivers are paying more to fill up compared to one year ago. The national average is currently 36 cents per gallon more than a year ago, and Oregon drivers are paying 61 cents more than a year ago.

Oil Market Dynamics

Crude prices continue to decline while the global oil market remains oversupplied, and high U.S. production will continue to apply some downward pressure until demand rises. OPEC’s production cuts are scheduled through June 1, at which time the group will convene a meeting with non-member oil producers to discuss the possibility of additional action.  AAA will join other industry experts to monitor market activity in the coming weeks and months to keep motorists informed.

At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI was down 79 cents to settle at $48.49 per barrel. Today WTI is trading near $48, compared to $53 a week ago. Crude prices are down about 10 percent in the last month and are about $11 more per barrel than a year ago.  Even so, current prices are nowhere near the recent multi-year high of $114 per barrel in June 2014.

National average diesel prices hold steady while Oregon’s average diesel price experiences a slight increase. For the week, the national average remains at $2.52 a gallon. Oregon’s average rises half a penny to $2.68. A year ago the national average for diesel was $2.05 and the Oregon average was $2.05.

For the lowest citizen-reported gas prices on the High Desert, check our Pump Patrol page, fueled by GasBuddy.

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