PORTLAND, Ore., – “Retail gas prices are up by double digits this week due to a decline in gasoline supplies, relatively strong demand and refinery maintenance. For the week, the national average for regular unleaded jumps 14 cents to $1.95 a gallon, which is the highest average in two months and the largest weekly jump since March 2015. The Oregon average jumps a dime to $2.09, also the highest average in two months and the largest weekly jump since November 2015,” says AAA Oregon/Idaho Public Affairs Director Marie Dodds. “Despite the increases, drivers continue to enjoy year-over-year-savings at the pump due to relatively low crude oil costs. Consumers are saving 48 cents a gallon nationally and 77 cents in Oregon a gallon compared to one year ago.”
Prices typically move higher this time of year as gasoline demand begins to increase and refineries conduct seasonal maintenance. This year’s refinery maintenance season is characterized by lower-than-expected prices for crude oil and ample supplies, which should help keep pump prices relatively low compared to recent years. Prices in some regions, including the West Coast, may move significantly higher in the near term due to fluctuations in local supply and demand associated with continued maintenance and preparations for summer-blend gasoline in advance of the June 1 deadline for retail facilities to sell the cleaner blend.
Over the past few years, prices in Oregon have moved higher during the spring maintenance season, which generally runs from February 1 to June 1. Based on historical data, AAA says it’s likely that prices could increase about 70 cents per gallon during this period.
California regained its spot as the nation’s most expensive market for retail gasoline. Prices in the Golden State moved higher due to a significant drawdown in supply, coupled with increased gasoline demand, which is typical for this time of year. Regional neighbors Hawaii, Nevada, Washington and Alaska round out the top five most expensive markets for gas. Oregon is sixth for the second consecutive week. New Jersey ($1.71) and South Carolina ($1.71) are the nation’s least expensive markets for retail gasoline.
Drivers nationwide are paying more to refuel their vehicles than one week ago and prices in 47 states and Washington, D.C. are up by a nickel or more per gallon. Averages are up by double digits in 29 states and Washington, D.C. over this period, with the largest weekly increases in Illinois (+18 cents) and Missouri (+18 cents).
Retail averages in the vast majority of states (47) are up on the month, and consumers in 35 states have seen prices increase by a dime or more. The biggest jumps in price are seen in the Midwestern states of Minnesota (+54 cents) and Illinois (+50 cents). Averages in 16 states are up by more than a quarter per gallon month-over-month. Alaska (-13 cents), Hawaii (-8 cents) and Idaho (-2 cents) are the only three states where drivers are experiencing savings at the pump versus one month ago.
Yearly discounts persist and drivers nationwide are saving more than a quarter per gallon. Gas prices are down by 50 cents or more in 22 states and Washington, D.C., with the largest savings seen in California (-77 cents), Oregon (-77 cents), Alaska (-72 cents) and Arizona (-68 cents). Retail averages on the West Coast jumped this time last year due to a major refinery outage, which has led to a significant increase in year-over-year savings for the region.
Projected reductions in global oil supply and Iran’s slower-than-expected return to the global oil market contributed to Brent and West Texas Intermediate closing last week at 2016 highs. However, oil prices are lower this week on the news that Iran plans to significantly increase oil production. Speculation about whether the market has bottomed out persists, and market fundamentals continue to point to supply outpacing demand, which could again send prices lower.
The latest data shows that the U.S. oil rig count fell to 386 rigs last week, marking 12 straight weeks of rig-count declines. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, domestic production declined from year-ago levels for the first time in more than four years, largely due to lower-than-expected crude oil prices. Despite this reduction in production, the agency lowered its projections for crude oil prices because domestic production remains more resilient than expected.
At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI was up 66 cents and settled at $38.40 per barrel, which marked the fourth straight week of oil price increases. At the close of Monday’s session, WTI lost $1.32 to settle at $37.18 per barrel. Today WTI is trading around $36, compared to $37 a week ago. Crude prices are up about 25 percent in the last month and are about $8 lower than a year ago.
Drivers can find current gas prices along their route with the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. The app can also be used to map a route, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.
For the 70th week in a row, there are no states with an average price for regular unleaded at or above $4 a gallon. For the 24th week in a row, all 50 states and Washington D.C. have averages below $3 per gallon. Thirty-nine states have averages below $2 per gallon, down from 45 states last week.
After six weeks, California bumps Hawaii as the state with the most expensive gasoline in the nation at $2.61 (up 15 cents and up to first after six weeks at second). Hawaii is second at $2.55 a gallon, followed by Nevada at $2.22, Alaska at $2.20, and Washington at $2.20 (up nine cents and down from fourth last week). Oregon is sixth for the second consecutive week at $2.09 (up nine cents). Idaho is 28th down from 17th last week at $1.90 (up four cents). After one week, New Jersey bumps Arizona as the state with the cheapest gas in the nation at $1.71 a gallon (up 12 cents).
Diesel prices are on the rise. The national average jumps seven cents to $2.06 a gallon. Oregon’s average adds six cents to $2.07. Diesel is at or above $4 a gallon in just one state, same as last week. Hawaii is most expensive at $4.14, followed by California at $2.40 (up seven cents and second for the second week in a row), Pennsylvania at $2.39, Connecticut at $2.36, and the District of Columbia at $2.34. Washington is ninth for the fifth week in a row at $2.24 (up a nickel). Oregon is 21st down from 19th last week at $2.07. Idaho is 26th down from 20th last week at $2.03 (up two cents). A year ago, the national average for diesel was $2.91 and Oregon’s was $2.93.
Fuel prices are updated daily at AAA’s Daily Fuel Gauge at www.aaafuelgaugereport.com/. To check fuel prices across Idaho and the nation, go to the AAA Fuel Price Finder. AAA Oregon/Idaho provides more than 755,000 members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services, and is an affiliate of AAA National, serving more than 55 million motorists in North America.