Idaho gas prices top $3 — more increases expected
BOISE — Idaho’s average gas price exceeded $3 Friday for the first time this year, AAA Idaho reports, and more increases are expected through Memorial Day.
The motorists’ group reported Monday that Idaho’s average gas price stands at $3.02 per gallon, well above the national average of $2.89. Idaho gas prices have risen by 48 cents a gallon in the past month, but they’re still 6 cents a gallon less than they were a year ago.
Idaho generally has around the seventh to ninth highest gas prices in the nation, according to AAA Idaho spokesman Matthew Conde. But it was lower this winter; the state was down to 32nd highest earlier this year and was below the national average from Feb. 18 to April 18.
Idaho gas prices started dropping in the fall of 2018 and continued to fall through the winter, Conde said, but, “For the most part, the savings have come to an end.”
AAA attributes the big increases to a combination of factors. Refineries switch to a more expensive summer blend of fuel each year, and as the switch approaches, they usually shut down some of their production for maintenance and repairs. This spring, that’s dropped refinery utilization in the Rockies region from the usual 91 to 93 percent to just 81 percent.
“That means that there is less fuel on hand to meet the growing demand,” Conde said in a news release.
Plus, he noted, “Uncertainty abounds in the global crude market, keeping oil prices in a state of disarray.” Sanctions on Iran and Venezuela and reduced production from OPEC have been partially offset by increased domestic production. But the benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude oil price on Monday was around $64 per barrel, up nearly $20 from the start of 2019.
AAA reports that Idaho’s highest current gas price is in Cascade at $3.40 a gallon; lowest is $2.90 in Preston. Boise was at $3.05; both Nampa and Caldwell were at $3.07.