Idaho gas costs stick

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BOISE – National average gas prices have increased for 14 of the past 15 days, but Idaho pump prices continue to head in the opposite direction.

Across the Gem State, gas prices have been on the decline since March 21, which may be a partial result of abundant winter-blend fuel being sold to make way for the more expensive summer-blend variety.

“Like other states in the Rocky Mountain region, Idaho gas prices can be pretty sticky,” says AAA Idaho spokesman Matthew Conde. “When that happens, our region sometimes defies the national trend, and it’s nice to see Idaho on the winning side of the equation this time around.”

With regional pipeline issues resolved and few refinery interruptions, Idaho pump prices are relatively stable at the moment, but increased demand and more expensive summer-blend fuel will eventually apply upward pressure on Gem State gas prices.

Today, the national average is around $2.39, nine cents more than a month ago and 35 cents more than a year ago. Idaho’s average is around $2.44, six cents less than a month ago and 57 cents more than a year ago. The two averages haven’t been that close since late January.

AAA expects Idaho’s savings trend to end as the summer driving season approaches. “What we’re seeing now is more of a head fake than a long-term pattern,” Conde said. “As the summer blend inventory comes in, Idaho’s prices are likely to reverse course.”

Yesterday, crude oil futures opened trading at their highest level in more than a month due to ongoing political tension in the Middle East. The market briefly surged following last week’s U.S. missile strike against a Syrian airbase, and over the weekend, an oilfield in Libya was shut down after an armed group blocked a pipeline leading to an oil terminal.

OPEC’s market activities also continue to have an effect on global oil speculation. OPEC and non-OPEC entities have generally complied with a January 1 agreement to reduce production by 1.8 million barrels of oil per day. The organization has also signaled the possibility of additional production cuts when the deal expires at the end of June. AAA will work with other industry experts to monitor the developing situation.

In the meantime, U.S. oil production continues to expand. At last count, monitoring organization Baker-Hughes reported that 662 oil rigs are currently operating in the United States.

Under current conditions, AAA Idaho continues to project that Gem State gas prices will climb into the $2.50 to $2.70 range heading into the busy summer driving season. Additional upward pressure could push prices even higher.

“In the meantime, Idahoans can and should continue to make the most of any price relief they see at the pump,” Conde noted.

Here’s a look at some of the gas prices across the state: Ammon, $2.40; Blackfoot, $2.45; Boise, $2.38; Bonners Ferry, $2.59; Cascade, $2.60; Coeur D’Alene, $2.47; Deary, $2.57; Emmett, $2.46; Glenns Ferry, $2.42; Idaho Falls, $2.39; Kamiah, $2.51; Kootenai, $2.62; Lewiston, $2.61; Moscow, $2.63; Orofino, $2.62; Pocatello, $2.46; Post Falls, $2.58; Sandpoint, $2.62; Sun Valley, $2.80; Twin Falls, $2.32; Wallace, $2.70.

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