The surging price of crude oil is causing more pain at the pumps.

A quick Chronicle price check in St. Helens Wednesday morning, Oct. 13, shows unleaded regular up about a nickle a gallon, at $3.83 and approaching $4 a gallon in Scappoose.

Increasing Gasoline Prices

The West Coast region continues to have the most expensive pump prices in the nation with every state in the region except Arizona in the top 10.

Prices of U.S. crude climbed above $80, a seven-year high, and that’s putting upward pressure on retail gas prices, according to the latest American Automobile Association (AAA) survey. For the week, the national average for regular jumps eight cents to $3.28 a gallon. The Oregon average rises three cents to $3.76.

“Skyrocketing crude prices are the major driver for the continued rise in gas prices this fall. Crude oil prices typically account for between 50% and 60% of the price at the pump,” AAA Oregon/Idaho Public Affairs Director Marie Dodds said.

Crude prices are about twice as expensive as last October and are up about $30/bbl since the start of the year. Investors are concerned about a potential supply shortage in the coming years as the world emerges from the coronavirus pandemic.

Last week’s decision by OPEC and its oil-producing allies to not increase production further only exacerbated the upward momentum for crude oil prices.

Demand for gasoline in the U.S. continues to rise. Although the summer surge of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. is waning, travel will likely continue to be impacted this fall, according to the AAA report.

Quick stats

Oregon is one of 46 states where prices are higher this week. Oregon has the sixth-smallest weekly gain in the nation. The District of Columbia (+15 cents) has the largest weekly increase in the country. Idaho (-1 cent) has the largest week-over-week decline.

California ($4.44) and Hawaii ($4.13) continue to have the most expensive gas prices in the country and are the only states in the nation with averages above $4 a gallon, and 44 states and the District of Columbia are at or above $3, up from 38 states and D.C. a week ago.

The cheapest gas in the nation is in Mississippi ($2.92) and Texas ($2.92). For the 40th week in a row, no state has an average below $2 a gallon.

Oregon is one of only seven states with lower prices now than a month ago. The national average is 10 cents more and the Oregon average is one cent less than a month ago. Nevada (-10 cents) has the largest monthly decrease in the country. The District of Columbia (+24 cents) has the largest month-over-month increase.

All 50 states and the District of Columbia have higher prices now than a year ago, and 44 states including Oregon and the District of Columbia have a current average that’s a dollar or more higher than a year ago. The national average is $1.09 more and the Oregon average is $1.15 more than a year ago. This is the 11th-largest yearly increase in the nation. Idaho (+$1.35) has the biggest yearly increase. Delaware (+88 cents) has the smallest year-over-year increase.

West Coast

The West Coast region continues to have the most expensive pump prices in the nation with every state in the region except Arizona in the top 10.

California is the most expensive state for the 38th week in a row with Hawaii, Nevada, Washington and Oregon rounding out the top five. Alaska is eighth and Arizona is 18th. Oregon rises to fifth after a week at sixth.

All seven states in the West Coast region are among the 36 states in the country that have averages above $3 a gallon.

Arizona (+8 cents) has the largest weekly increase in the region. Nevada (-1 cent) has the largest weekly decrease in the region.

The refinery utilization rate on the West Coast region rose from 84% to 86% for the week ending October 1. It has ranged from 85% and 88% much of the summer after remaining between about 82% and 84% in the spring.

According to EIA’s latest weekly report, total gas stocks in the region declined slightly to 30.21 million bbl from 32.28 million bbl.

Oil market dynamics

Crude oil prices increased last week due to the actions of OPEC+ last week and also after the U.S. Department of Energy dispelled speculation that the Biden Administration would ban crude exports or sell crude oil held in the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve. The sale could have put more crude into the domestic market, but it is unlikely to have had a sustained downward impact on oil prices.

Diesel

For the week, the national average surges 12 cents to $3.48 a gallon. Oregon’s average adds three cents to $3.72. A year ago the national average for diesel was $2.38 and the Oregon average was $2.58.

Find current fuel prices at GasPrices.AAA.com.

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