Pain at the pump: gas prices on the rise

OKANOGAN – Average retail gasoline prices have risen 1.2 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $2.74 per gallon as of Sunday, Feb. 26, according to Gas Buddy.

Including the change in gas prices in Washington during the past week, prices on Feb. 29 were 72.2 cents per gallon higher than the same day one year ago and are 1.6 cents per gallon higher than a month ago. The national average has increased 0.8 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 54.3 cents per gallon higher than this day one year ago.

According to Gas Buddy’s historical data, gasoline prices for Feb. 27 in Washington state have ranged widely over the last five years including $2.02 per gallon in 2016, $2.56 per gallon in 2015, $3.39 per gallon in 2014, $3.76 per gallon in 2013 and $3.86 per gallon in 2012.

“With refinery maintenance and turnarounds beginning across the country, we’ll likely see a draw down on winter gasoline stocks, leading the national average to rise in the week ahead,” GasBuddy senior petroleum analyst Patrick DeHaan said. “Despite oil prices that remain range bound in the low to mid-$50’s per barrel, refinery status and the likely draw in inventories will win this week’s tug of war at the pump, keeping upward pressure on gasoline prices.

“In addition, unexpected refinery outages could cause additional volatility or spikes in prices over the next two months due to the limited ability for other refiners to help offset any production losses while performing their planned maintenance.”

Meanwhile, for the third week in a row, the national average has remained steady, holding at $2.28 per gallon.

While the pause in the national average is not a shock, motorists shouldn’t get used to it as gasoline prices have risen an average of 59 cents between mid-February and Memorial Day over the last five years.

“With refinery maintenance and turnarounds beginning across the country, we’ll likely see a draw down on

Lending credibility to expectations of an upward trend, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) Weekly Petroleum Report last Thursday, Feb. 23, showed a decline of 2.6 million barrels of gasoline from inventories over the last week and refinery utilization at 84.3 percent, the lowest rate since April 2013, when refiners utilized 83.5 percent of their capacity. The low figure indicates refiners are ramping up on maintenance, thus seeing reductions in gasoline production. The bulk of seasonal maintenance generally lasts just over two months before refiners ramp up production as the summer driving season comes into view.

Stateside, gasoline price movements have been split nearly equally. 26 states saw average gasoline prices decline in the last week while 24 saw prices rise. Every state saw some movement, with Indiana leading decliners - down 10 cents per gallon.

On the opposite end of the charts finds the nation’s priciest gallon in Hawaii at $3.11 per gallon, California at $2.95 per gallon, and Washington at $2.75 per gallon.

As of press time Monday, Feb. 25, local prices included $2.71 per gallon in Okanogan, $2.66 per gallon in Riverside, $2.69 per gallon in Oroville, $2.79 per gallon in Brewster, $2.86 per gallon in Pateros and $2.99 per gallon in Twisp.

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