Oil Refinery Maintenance Sends Gas Prices Higher

Gas prices are showing little to moderate movement this week. Most states, including Oregon, are seeing prices change by six cents or less. Slack demand for gas and waffling oil prices are the primary reasons for relatively stable prices. For the week, the national average for regular unleaded dips a penny to $3.40. The Oregon average gains six cents to $3.86.

“Pump prices in Oregon have crept up over the past few days and this trend of small increases could continue into next week,” says Marie Dodds, public affairs director for AAA Oregon/Idaho. “Late winter refinery maintenance is a factor putting upward pressure on pump prices on the West Coast.”

Crude oil is trading around $76 today compared to $79 a week ago. In January, West Texas Intermediate ranged between about $73 and $82 bbl. and was $92 a year ago. Crude reached recent highs of $123.70 on March 8, 2022, and $122.11 per barrel on June 8, 2022. The all-time high for WTI crude oil is $147.27 in July 2008.

Crude prices tend to increase when geo-political events have the potential to disrupt supply. Crude prices rose dramatically leading up to and in the first few months of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Russia is one of the world’s top oil producers and its involvement in a war causes market volatility, and sanctions imposed on Russia by the U.S. and other western nations resulted in tighter global oil supplies. Oil supplies were already tight around the world as demand for oil increased as pandemic restrictions eased.

Crude oil is the main ingredient in gasoline and diesel, so pump prices are impacted by crude prices on the global markets. On average, about 56% of what we pay for in a gallon of gasoline is for the price of crude oil, 20% is refining, 11% distribution and marketing, and 14% are taxes, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Demand for gasoline in the U.S. dipped slightly from 8.43 million to 8.27 million b/d for the week ending February 10. This compares to 8.57 million b/d a year ago. Meanwhile, total domestic gasoline stocks increased by 2.3 million bbl to 241.9 million bbl last week. If gas demand remains low, drivers may see only moderate price increases amid growing total domestic stocks.

Quick stats

Oregon is one of 13 states with a week-over-week increase. Indiana (+13 cents) and Arizona (+12 cents) have the largest increases. New Jersey (-7 cents) and Florida (-6 cents) have the largest weekly declines.

Hawaii ($4.88) is the state with the most expensive gas in the nation for the 13th week in a row. California ($4.74) is second, Nevada ($4.22) is third, Washington ($4.20) is fourth, and Colorado ($4.10) is fifth. These are the only five states with averages at or above $4 a gallon. This week 44 states and the District of Columbia have averages in the $3-range. Texas ($2.99) is the only state with an average below $3 a gallon.

The cheapest gas in the nation is in Texas ($2.99) and Mississippi ($3.01). For the 110th week in a row, no state has an average below $2 a gallon.

The difference between the most expensive and least expensive states is $1.89 this week compared to $1.90 last week.

Oregon is one of 19 states with higher prices now than a month ago. The national average is flat month-over-month, and the Oregon average is 16 cents more than a month ago. This is the sixth-largest monthly increase in the country. Colorado (+49 cents) and Utah (+45 cents) have the largest monthly gains. Delaware (-25 cents) and Ohio (-24 cents) have the largest monthly declines.

Oregon is one of 43 states and the District of Columbia with lower prices now than a year ago. The national average is 13 cents less and the Oregon average is 13 cents less than a year ago. Colorado (+75 cents) has the largest yearly jump. Delaware (-38 cents) has the biggest year-over-year decline.

West Coast

The West Coast region continues to have the most expensive pump prices in the nation with six of the seven states in the top 10. This is typical for the West Coast as this region tends to consistently have fairly tight supplies, consuming about as much gasoline as is produced. In addition, this region is located relatively far from parts of the country where oil drilling, production and refining occurs, so transportation costs are higher. And environmental programs in this region add to the cost of production, storage and distribution.

For the week, the national average for diesel loses six cents to $4.48 a gallon. The record high is $5.816 set on June 19, 2022. The Oregon average ticks up a penny to $4.76. The record high is $6.47 set on July 3, 2022. A year ago the national average for diesel was $3.95 and the Oregon average was $4.20.

Source: AAA

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