Gasoline prices set to rise nationwide ahead of summer

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MOSES LAKE — While motorists across the country are paying less at the pump to fill their cars, gas prices will likely start rising by early summer, according to national fuel price tracker Gas Buddy.

According to Senior Petroleum Analyst Dan McTeague, a mid-December outage in BP’s Olympic Pipeline system — which delivers gasoline, diesel and jet fuel the length of the state from Blaine to Portland — caused a temporary rise in state fuel prices that Washington residents are now seeing some relief from.

“It was down for a few days, and there was some concern about supply,” McTeague said. “It caused as much as a 40-cent spike.”

Washington, however, still has the fourth-most expensive gasoline in the country, with an average price of $2.985 per gallon, compared with a national average price of $2.35 forecast for January.

Only California, Alaska and Hawaii have more expensive gasoline. Washington has the third-highest state gasoline taxes in the country, behind Pennsylvania and California.

In Moses Lake, Gas Buddy reports local gasoline prices ranging from $2.79 for regular unleaded at Sunval Express on Kittleson Rd. near the state Route 17 exit to Interstate 90 to $3.09 reported at the Texaco and Conoco stations at the same intersection.

Gas Buddy says the $2.79 price has also been reported at independent retailers USA Gasoline and Tiger Paws in Ephrata.

McTeague said the current prices should hold for a few weeks before rising again as the weather gets warmer.

“There’s plenty of competition and plenty of supply,” he said.

However, with major OPEC and non-OPEC producers like Canada and Russia cutting production, and the six-month waivers by the Trump Administration intending to prevent sales of Iranian oil as it reimposed sanctions on Iran, McTeague said the fundamentals are all in place for a rise in crude oil and refined product prices by early summer.

According to Bloomberg News, the price of crude oil on the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) closed at $45.88 per barrel on Wednesday, down from around $70 in mid-September. Commodity gasoline closed at $1.31 per gallon, down from over $2 per gallon in late September.

Charles H. Featherstone can be reached via email at cfeatherstone@columbiabasinherald.com.

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