You are paying more at local gasoline stations this week.
In a quick price survey, The Chronicle has found a 10-cent jump per gallon over the past few days in prices in Columbia County. The high end in St. Helens is $3.93 a gallon for unleaded today. Scappoose is at $3.95 per gallon and Clatskanie's high is now at $3.99 for cash payments and at $4.09 for credit card payments.
The cost we pay for gasoline is moving higher, driven primarily by a jump in crude oil prices, according to the Oregon/Idaho AAA. Some refinery and distribution issues here on the West Coast are causing prices in this region to rise faster than the national average. For the week, the national average for regular climbs one-and-a-half cents to $3.30 a gallon. The Oregon average jumps eight cents to $3.89.
Crude oil has surged to near $80 a barrel. Events on the far side of the globe are fueling the recent rise. Social unrest and violence in Kazakhstan, a member of the OPEC+ alliance, have forced that nation to cut production. Before the recent flare-up of violence, Kazakhstan pumped nearly 2 million barrels of crude a day. In contrast, the United States, as the top oil-producing country in the world, pumped an average of 18.6 million barrels a day.
“Since the global price for oil accounts for nearly half of what consumers pay at the pump, higher oil costs will usually result in higher gasoline costs,” Oregon/Idaho AAA Public Affairs Director Marie Dodds said. “Markets, in general, don’t like uncertainty and volatility, and the oil market is no exception. The oil production cuts by Kazakhstan demonstrate that in times of tight supply, it doesn’t take much to put upward pressure on the overall price of oil.”
Here in the Pacific Northwest, some refinery and distribution snags have led to some supply disruptions, according to Dodds. At least two refineries including HollyFrontier Puget Sound and Phillips 66 Ferndale have reportedly had some issues, impacting Washington and Oregon. Weather has also played a role. Mountain snow has made traveling over the passes challenging, and flooding has impacted roads in Oregon and Washington.