BOISE – Idaho drivers are still saving at the pump this week, but with a surprise announcement by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), the time of cheaper pump prices may be running out.
Over the weekend, OPEC unexpectedly announced plans to reduce crude oil production by another 1 million barrels per day beginning in May. The move has already sent shockwaves through the crude market and could affect the price of gasoline soon.
But for now, it’s the calm before the storm. According to AAA, today’s average price for a gallon of regular in the Gem State is $3.55, which is about four cents less than a week ago and 11 cents less than a month ago. Meanwhile, the national average currently sits at $3.51 per gallon, which is seven cents more than a week ago and 12 cents more than a month ago.
With the Idaho and national averages now less than a nickel apart, the Gem State currently ranks 13th in the country for most expensive fuel, down from 11th place last week. Today’s most expensive state averages are in California ($4.83), Hawaii ($4.79), and Washington ($4.30). The cheapest fuel in the U.S. can be purchased in Mississippi at $3.02 per gallon.
“The spring and summer months typically bring increased fuel demand, and prices tend to rise. But no one was expecting OPEC to cut crude supplies, and with both conditions hitting around the same time, it could be a real one-two punch for drivers,” says AAA Idaho public affairs director Matthew Conde. “If the market has serious concerns about the possibility of a global recession, that may cushion the blow. But if not, we could be in for a pricey start to the busy driving season.”
After dipping as low as $67 per barrel in mid-March, the West Texas Intermediate benchmark for crude oil is currently trading over the $80 mark in the aftermath of OPEC’s announcement. AAA predicts an initial 8-12 cent increase in gas prices solely based on the announcement itself.
According to the Energy Information Administration, refinery production in the Rockies region currently sits at 82% of total capacity, up from 80% the previous week. Gasoline demand increased by 200,000 barrels per day to 9.15 million barrels, while gasoline and crude oil inventories fell by 3 million and 7.5 million barrels, respectively. If higher demand or tighter supplies remain in place this week, both crude oil and gas prices could rise.
“To stretch the time between fill-ups, consider bundling your trips or running errands with a friend or loved one to use one vehicle instead of two,” Conde said. “Building good habits around fuel consumption will keep some money in your pocket and do the planet a favor at the same time.”
Here’s a look at Idaho gas prices as of 4/3/23:
Boise – $3.70
Coeur d’Alene – $3.32
Franklin – $3.75
Idaho Falls – $3.54
Lewiston – $3.28
Pocatello – $3.46
Rexburg – $3.36
Twin Falls – $3.64