Gas prices: Oregon up yet nation down

By Oregon — American Automobile Association

“Drivers in every state are paying more than a month ago, but a little relief is on the way. The national average for regular unleaded slips four cents this week to $3.74, while the Oregon average gains five-and-a-half cents to $3.79. For the first time in five weeks, the Oregon average is again greater than the national average,” says AAA Oregon/Idaho Public Affairs Director Marie Dodds. “The national average is no longer the highest on record for this calendar day. Monday, March 4 was the first time since Jan. 31 that the national average has fallen below the price for the same day in 2012 and is currently three cents lower than it was a year ago. The Oregon average is 17 cents lower than it was a year ago.”

For the 16th week in a row, the Oregon and Washington are out of the top ten most expensive states for gasoline. But their positions are moving up. Washington is 15th up from 29th last week. Oregon is 16th up from 30th a week ago.

The national average increased for 36 consecutive days from Jan. 17 to Feb. 22. During this streak retail prices surged 49 cents per gallon from $3.29 to $3.78, which was just below the year-to-date high of $3.79 on Feb. 27. Since this recent peak, the national average has dropped for six straight days and declined a total of five cents.

“With “spot” gasoline prices (gasoline sold for immediate payment and delivery) dropping dramatically across the country, AAA says it is likely that retail prices will continue to fall in the coming days,” Dodds adds.

Sharply higher pump prices in January and February of this year were driven by refinery maintenance and concerns, rather than more expensive crude oil. These refinery issues pressured wholesale gasoline prices higher, while crude oil prices only rose slightly during the same period. The recent decline in the national average is partially due to cheaper crude oil but is more closely linked to tumbling wholesale gasoline prices.

These recent declines and the fact that the national retail average has fallen back below the year-ago price supports AAA’s prediction that gas prices will peak this spring at a lower level than recent years. In 2011 the national average for regular unleaded peaked at $3.98 on May 5. In 2012 the price peaked at $3.94 on April 5 and 6. The Oregon average peaked at $3.97 on May 6 in 2011 and $4.27 on June 1 in 2012.

Crude oil prices began 2013 at $93.12 per barrel and increased as high as $97.94 on Jan. 30. At the close of formal trading Monday on the NYMEX, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) prices settled 56 cents lower at $90.12 per barrel. Today crude continues to trade around $90 per barrel. For comparison, on March 4 (or the nearest trading day) in 2011 and 2012 WTI settled at $104.42 and $106.72 respectively. Each of these significatly more expensive prices was driven by violence and geopolitical tensions overseas (Libya in 2011 and Iran in 2012). Without similar concerns to begin 2013, crude oil prices have been substantially less expensive and less volatile. Crude prices are down about six percent in the last month.

This week three states have regular unleaded at or above $4 a gallon, down from four states last week. For the fourth consecutive week, there are no states below $3 a gallon. For the 16th week in a row, both Oregon and Washington remain out of the ten most expensive states, but California remains in the top five in second. Hawaii has the most expensive gas in the country for the 20th consecutive week at $4.40, followed by California at $4.22 (down two cents and second for the fifth consecutive week), Alaska at $4.04, New York at $3.98, and the District of Columbia at $3.98. Washington is 15th up from 29th last week at $3.79 (up six cents). Oregon is 16th up from 30th last week at $3.79 (up five-and-a-half cents). Idaho is 48th for the second consecutive week at $3.45 (same as last week). Wyoming has the cheapest gas in the nation for the seventh week in a row at $3.30 a gallon (up four cents).

Diesel prices are down slightly in most markets. The national average slips two-and-a-half cents to $4.12 while Oregon’s average loses one-half cent to $4.12. Diesel is at or above $4 a gallon in 41 states (including the District of Columbia), down from 45 last week. Hawaii is most expensive at $4.97, followed by New York at $4.41, Connecticut at $4.41, California at $4.39 (down three cents and fourth for the second week in a row), and Maine at $4.38. Washington is 10th up from 15th at $4.22 (up a penny). Oregon is 26th for the second consecutive week. Idaho is 24th up from 29th last week at $4.13 (up a penny). A year ago, the national average for diesel was $4.08 and Oregon’s was $4.34.

State: Oregon  | Date Posted: 3/5/2013  | Contact: Marie Dodds

Disclaimer: Articles featured on Oregon Report are the creation, responsibility and opinion of the authoring individual or organization which is featured at the top of every article.