Oregon drivers to pay highest prices for the holiday in two years
PORTLAND, Ore., – Retail gas prices are fairly flat in most states as we head into the last holiday weekend of the summer. For the week, the national average for regular ticks up half a cent to $2.84 while Oregon’s average slips half a cent to $3.24.
“With Labor Day approaching, drivers could see pump prices climb a bit, but any jumps shouldn’t last beyond the holiday weekend,” says Marie Dodds, public affairs director for AAA Oregon/Idaho.
The national average will be the most expensive for Labor Day since 2014, while the Oregon average will be the most expensive since 2016. Last year’s Labor Day weekend saw gas prices spike, but that was due to Hurricane Harvey. As it battered the Southeast, it shut down refineries and pipelines causing pump prices to surge.
Those driving over the Labor Day holiday will enjoy lower gas prices than this spring and earlier this summer. Prices have backed away from their year-to-date highs. The national average reached $2.97 in late May, while the Oregon average remained at $3.35 in late May through early June.
Labor Day Travel
Labor Day is seen as the final chance for a long weekend getaway before the summer comes to an end and generally sees the lowest travel volume of the three major summer holiday weekends.
Over the last decade, travel over the Labor Day holiday weekend has remained relatively stable, with approximately 35 million Americans traveling 50 miles or more from home each year. In the Pacific Region (AK, CA, HI, OR, WA), about 5 million people typically travel. This compares to 41.5 million Memorial Day and 47 million Independence Day travelers this year (6.5 million and 7.2 million in the Pacific Region, respectively).
With many schools already starting up again this week, families planning Labor Day trips tend to take shorter trips that are closer to home. Regional destinations such as Bend and Central Oregon, the Oregon Coast, Ashland, Crater Lake, Seattle and British Colombia are favorites.
Labor Day is also viewed as the start of the fall travel season. AAA Oregon/Idaho typically sees a surge in international destinations right after Labor Day. Airfare and accommodations tend to cost less in the fall compared to the summer months so this can be a good time to take advantage of good weather, smaller crowds and better value for your travel dollars.
Gas Prices Steady
Oregon is one of 31 states and the District of Columbia where prices have increased or decreased by a cent or less week-over-week. Ohio is the only state with a double-digit increase (+10 cents), while North Dakota has the largest weekly decrease (-2 cents). This week 10 states and the District of Columbia have averages at or above $3 a gallon, same as a week ago.
Oregon is one of 40 states and the District of Columbia where prices are lower than one month ago. The national average is two cents less and the Oregon average is four cents less than a month ago. Oregon has the 15th-largest monthly decrease in the country. Michigan (-10 cents) has the largest monthly decrease, while Idaho (+14 cents) has the largest monthly increase.
The West Coast continues to have the most expensive gas prices in the nation. Hawaii tops the list for the 12th week in a row with California, Washington, Alaska, Idaho and Oregon rounding out the top six. Oregon drops to sixth after nine weeks at fifth. When compared to last week, most pump prices in the region are flat.
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According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) petroleum status report for the week ending on August 10, inventories of gasoline in the West Coast region decreased by 200,000 bbl. They now sit at 30.1 million bbl, which is four million bbl higher than total levels at this time last year. Higher supplies will help offset potential price spikes in the region if demand increases in the run-up to Labor Day.
Additionally, the impact of Hurricane Lane on Hawaii’s gasoline refining and delivery systems has been minimal. Par Pacific, Hawaii’s largest refinery, closed as a safety precaution over the weekend, but it has since restarted.
The nation’s cheapest markets are Alabama ($2.53) and South Carolina ($2.53). For the 56th week in a row, no states have an average below $2.
Drivers in all 50 states and the District of Columbia are paying more than a year ago to fill up. The national average is 47 cents more and the Oregon average is 41 cents more than a year ago. This is the 50th-largest yearly increase in the country. Hawaii (+69 cents) has the greatest year-over-year increase; Arizona (+61 cents) is second; California (+60 cents) is third; Wyoming (+59 cents) is fourth; and Utah (+59 cents) is fifth.
Oil Market Dynamics
Crude oil prices are up a bit, due in part to a weaker U.S. dollar and a drop in the country’s oil stocks. The EIA’s weekly report showed total domestic crude inventories fell by 5.8 million bbl during the previous week, sending crude prices higher. If this week brings a continued decline in crude stocks, crude prices could surpass $70 per barrel.
According to Baker Hughes, Inc., the U.S. lost nine oil rigs last week, bringing the total to 860. Currently, there are 101 more active rigs than last year at this time.
At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI increased 89 cents to settle at $68.72. At the close of Monday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI gained 15 cents to settle at $68.87. Today crude is trading around $69, compared to $67 a week ago. Crude prices are down about two percent in the last month and are about $21 more per barrel 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 week, the national average adds half a cent to $3.15 a gallon. Oregon’s average slips a penny to $3.38. A year ago the national average for diesel was $2.54 and the Oregon average was $2.80.
Find current fuel prices at GasPrices.AAA.com.
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