Gas pains: Oregonians pay premium at pump

Third-highest price in U.S. makes for wallet pinch

C. Oregonians feel pump pinch

BEND, Ore. - The news that Oregon's gas prices are third-highest in the country doesn't surprise many High Desert drivers - but they are sure are frustrated, and waiting for some relief at the pump.

"It's crazy!" one Bend driver said Wednesday.

"I have a 44-gallon tank, and I never let it get past a quarter of a tank to fill up," said another.

As Oregon's prices stay high, some can't help but think of the good ol' days.

"I'm sad to say, I remember a 19-cent gallon of gas," said one Bend driver.

AAA experts in Bend say the reason for spike all comes down to location.

"Most of the refineries are all in the southern states, which we are very far removed from," said Cecilia Lee at the AAA Bend facility.

But good news is on the horizon. Relief should be on the way within the next few weeks.

"Typically, with Labor Day and people returning to school, there's not as much travel anymore," Lee said.

The switch to cheaper winter blends in California also can provide relief (though NewsChannel 21 heard from some drivers who say that blend also cuts their mileage, which could erase some savings.)

Here's this week's release from AAA Oregon/Idaho:

For the week, the national average for regular unleaded falls three cents to $3.45 while Oregon's average edges down a penny to $3.90 per gallon, the agency said Tuesday.

Only Hawaii and Alaska are more expensive, making Oregon's prices the most expensive in the continental U.S, AAA Oregon/Idaho Public Affairs Director Marie Dodds said.

The national average is at its lowest price since February of this year and is at the lowest August price since 2010, while Oregon's average is at its lowest price since mid-June.

"Drivers in the Pacific states continue to pay the highest prices in the country per gallon for regular unleaded," Dodds said. "The top five most expensive states are Hawaii, Alaska, Oregon, Washington and California.

Drivers in South Carolina are paying the least per gallon at $3.15, a savings of $1.15 compared to drivers in Hawaii.

"Pump prices in the Pacific region remain higher because this region is somewhat geographically isolated, in terms of being supplied by refineries that have access to cheaper crude products that are available in the central U.S. ," Dodds explained.

"Tight supplies on the West Coast for much of the spring and summer have kept prices higher. If there are no additional refinery or distribution issues in the region, drivers here should start to get some relief in the next few weeks," she added.

There's only about a month remaining before the Sept. 15 start of the shift from the more expensive summer blend gasoline to the cheaper winter blend. 

Demand for gasoline also drops off after Labor Day when the busy summer driving season comes to an end and the kids go back to school.  These factors should put downward pressure on retail gas prices, the AAA official said.

Oregon is one of 43 states and Washington D.C. where gas prices have gone down in the last week with drivers in Ohio  (-11 cents) and Michigan  (-10 cents) enjoying the biggest savings.

            Month-over-month declines are reported in 47 states, including Oregon, and Washington D.C. with the largest drops on the East Coast:  New Jersey (-20 cents), West Virginia (-19 cents) and Pennsylvania (-19 cents).

            Oregon is one of only seven states where gas prices are more expensive now than a year ago.  The largest year-over-year increases are reported in Nevada, Colorado and Oregon where drivers in all three states are paying 13 cents more than a year ago.

The national average has fallen 25 cents below its year-to-date high of $3.70 a gallon on April 28.  Oregon's average has fallen nearly nine cents from its year-to-date high of $3.99 on July 3.

Geopolitical tensions remain top of mind as the situations in Russia, Ukraine and Iraq continue to make headlines.

Unlike years past, when global events would lead to sharp increases in oil prices due to concerns of supply disruptions, these events have been largely dismissed by investors as global oil prices continue to slide.

This is largely due to the relative stability of global supply projections, attributed to the U.S. approaching its highest annual level of oil production since 1972 and Libya's returning to previous production levels.

The price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) settled 94 cents lower at $96.41 per barrel at the close of Monday's formal trading, which is slightly higher than the more than six-month low of $95.58 per barrel registered last Thursday.

Tuesday, WTI is trading around $95, compared to $97 a week ago.  Crude prices are down about nine percent over the last month, and are about $11 per barrel lower than a year ago.

Find the lowest citizen-reported gas prices in your area of the High Desert at KTVZ.COM's Pump Patrol

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