Predicted seasonal gas price increases have reached the Gem State, with higher pump prices expected to follow, according to the American Automobile Association.
“Over the last week, Idaho’s average gas prices have surged by an incredible sixteen cents per gallon,” says AAA Idaho spokesman Matthew Conde. “The spring has come in like a lion, with no signs of slowing down.”
With last week’s price jump, Idaho returns to the Top Ten list of highest gas prices at in the nation, he said. Right now, Idaho is on the list at #10.
Six states saw double-digit increases last week: Idaho (+16 cents), Utah (+14 cents), Delaware (+13 cents), New Mexico (+12 cents), South Carolina (+10 cents) and Maryland (+10 cents). Idaho fuel is the most expensive in the Rocky Mountain region.
“Today, the national average for regular gasoline is $2.61, which is nine cents more than a month ago and 33 cents more than a year ago. In the Gem State, Idaho drivers are paying $2.72 today, sixteen cents more than a month ago and 24 cents more than a year ago,” Conde explained.
“Several factors could be contributing to the higher pump prices we’re seeing in Idaho -- and in other parts of the country,” he said.
Here are some key considerations:
--Regional refinery activity. According to the Energy Information Administration, ten percent of the Rocky Mountain region’s distilled production capacity went off-line in March, due to scheduled maintenance. In April, about 16 percent of capacity will be off-line.
“It’s important to note that the Rocky Mountain region has 16 operating refineries and the smallest refining capacity of any region in the United States at 0.7 million barrels of distilled product per day,” Conde said. “When refineries perform even routine maintenance, there can be an impact on supply. Unexpected delays could lead to additional regional price increases.”
--Spring switch to summer-blend fuel. Summer-blend fuel is more expensive to produce, because additives are needed to prevent evaporation at higher temperatures, experts said.
--Crude oil prices are climbing. While U.S. crude oil production continues to boom; international oil producers are working to control the global supply and corresponding prices. Last week, the U.S. produced 10.41 million barrels per day, a new record. 804 domestic oil rigs are active this week, 152 more than this time last year.
“International producers have signaled that they are considering additional production cuts to keep crude oil prices up, but American production may be combating their effectiveness to some extent,” Conde said. “There’s been an overall reduction in global crude oil supply, and further reductions could drive higher oil prices.”
Saudi Arabia’s energy minister has called for cooperation to further reduce oil supplies. That news contributed to a spike in crude oil prices to end the week.
--Higher spring fuel demand over last year. In the U.S., crude oil inventories have dropped 2.6 million barrels from the previous week, and storage levels across the country now total 428.3 million barrels -– 105 million barrels less than this time last year. Reduced crude oil supply can be an indicator of higher than usual gasoline demand nationwide, which has coincided with growing crude oil and gasoline exports from the United States.
AAA predicts that there will continue to be upward pressure on fuel prices, both nationally and here in Idaho, throughout the spring.
“Drivers should group errands together and travel during non-peak hours to avoid burning up costly fuel,” Conde recommended. “The AAA mobile app also provides quick access to information about the cheapest fuel in the area.”
Here’s a look at several gas prices across Idaho:
Albion, $2.59; Ashton, $2.58; Blackfoot, $2.66; Boise, $2.79; Bonners Ferry, $2.73; Cascade, $2.90; Chubbuck, $2.68; Coeur d’Alene, $2.62; Dalton Gardens, $2.60; Donnelly, $2.86; Emmett, $2.79; Franklin, $2.56; Glenns Ferry, $2.69; Gooding, $2.68; Homedale, $2.80; Idaho Falls, $2.61; Jerome, $2.73; Ketchum, $2.95; Lewiston, $2.74; Moscow, $2.83; Mountain Home, $2.78; Orofino, $2.76; Payette, $2.84; Pocatello, $2.68; Rexburg, $2.68; Twin Falls, $2.69; Sandpoint, $2.71; Stanley, $3.00; Weiser, $2.81.