West Coast still seeing highest U.S. gas prices

Oregon prices more than 40 cents above nation's average

PORTLAND, Ore. - First, Tuesday's good news at the gas pump from AAA Oregon/Idaho: Gas prices are edging down or holding steady in most markets this week, despite high-profile conflicts in oil producing countries and declining domestic refinery production. But Oregon's average gas price is still well above the nation's.

The national average for regular unleaded slips 1.5 cents this week to $3.47 while Oregon's average remains at $3.90 per gallon.

AAA Oregon/Idaho Public Affairs Director Marie Dodds says, "The national average is at its lowest price since March of this year. The Oregon 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. The top five most expensive states are Hawaii, Alaska, California, Oregon and Washington."

The main reason that the West Coast prices have been higher is that 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 said.

Tight supplies on the West Coast for much of the spring and summer sent prices higher.  Assuming there aren't additional unexpected refinery or distribution issues in the region, prices here should start to decrease in the coming weeks, she added.

Oregon is one of 46 states and Washington D.C. where gas prices have decreased over the last month.  Oregon's current price is seven cents less than a month ago. 

The largest price reductions are in Washington D.C. (-22 cents), Delaware (-21 cents), West Virginia (-20 cents) and California (-20 cents). In 39 states and Washington D.C., the savings are a dime or more per gallon.

Oregon's current average is nine cents more than a year ago.  Oregon is one of only 10 states where drivers are paying a year-over-year premium.  Drivers in Nevada are paying the highest premium: 10 cents per gallon. 

Drivers in 40 states and Washington D.C. are enjoying savings at the pumps compared to the same date in 2013, with 27 states and Washington D.C. showing savings in the double digits.

The mid-continent states of Kansas (-21 cents), South Dakota (-21 cents) and North Dakota (-20 cents) posted the largest year-over-year savings, followed by Delaware (-19 cents) and Rhode Island (-18 cents).

The national average has fallen 23 cents below its year-to-date high of $3.70 a gallon on April 28.  Oregon's average has fallen eight cents from its year-to-date high of $3.98 on July 3.

Last week, President Obama announced that the U.S. would begin airstrikes in Iraq, in response to the continuing escalation of violence by the group known as ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and Levant). Iraq is the world's seventh-largest oil producer and a disruption in production could impact the global supply. Tensions between Russia and Ukraine, and the situation Libya also remain front of mind for many, although none of these occurrences have resulted in a disruption to supply.

Despite these geopolitical headlines, oil prices continue to trade near multi-month lows. The price of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) settled 43 cents higher at $98.08 per barrel at the close of Monday's formal trading, which is slightly lower than the price to begin last week and equal to the lowest settlement to begin a week since the start of February.

Today, WTI is trading around $97, same price as a week ago.  Crude prices are down about four percent over the last month, and are about $8 per barrel lower than a year ago.

National Average (Regular)                                           Highest Recorded Avg. Price                Date

Current             $3.474                                      Regular Unleaded:  $4.114                    7/17/08

Month Ago                   $3.623

Year Ago                      $3.549                                                                                                                         

                                                                                                                                    Highest Rec.

                                    Current Week Ago         Month Ago       Year Ago          Avg.  Price      Date

Oregon Statewide         $3.906              $3.913              $3.973              $3.817                  $4.294           7/03/08

Portland                        $3.906              $3.911              $3.963              $3.801                  $4.278           6/21/08

Salem                           $3.873              $3.882              $3.968              $3.813                  $4.262           7/08/08

Eugene/Springfield        $3.875              $3.883              $4.012              $3.797                  $4.330           6/28/08

Medford/Ashland          $3.902              $3.902              $4.009              $3.790                  $4.379           7/11/08

Bend                            $3.949              $3.979              $4.008              $3.795                  $4.345           6/20/08

Vancouver, WA             $3.886              $3.914              $3.979              $3.834                  $4.349           6/28/08                                                                                                                         Highest Rec.

This week there are two states with regular unleaded at or above $4 a gallon, same as last week:  Hawaii and Alaska.  For the 29th week in a row, there are no states with an average below $3 per gallon, and no states within a dime of this mark for the 25th week in a row. 

Hawaii has the most expensive gas in the country for the 94th consecutive week at $4.32, followed by Alaska at $4.10, California at $3.91 (down four cents and third for the seventh week in a row), Oregon at $3.91 (same price as last week and fourth for the third consecutive week), and Washington at $3.90 (down a penny and fifth for the third week in a row).  Idaho is ninth for the third consecutive week at $3.77 (down a penny).  South Carolina has the cheapest gas in the country for the eighth week in a row at $3.18 a gallon (down four cents).

Diesel prices are ticking down or holding steady in most markets.  The national average slips a penny this week to $3.82 a gallon. Oregon's average remains at $3.94.  Diesel is at or above $4 a gallon in six states, down from seven last week.  Hawaii is most expensive at $4.85, followed by Alaska at $4.21, Connecticut at $4.20, New York at $4.18, and California at $4.10 (down a penny).  Washington is sixth for the second consecutive week at $4.01 (down a penny). Idaho is 11th down from 10th at $3.94 (down a penny).  Oregon is 12th up from 16th last week.  A year ago, the national average for diesel was $3.87 and Oregon's was $3.92.

To find the lowest citizen-reported gas prices in your area, visit KTVZ.COM's Pump Patrol.

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