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Jun-02-2009 12:33printcomments

Gas Prices Up Sharply in a Month with National Average Surpassing $2.50

The national average jumped ten cents in the past week to nearly $2.53, while Oregon's average for regular unleaded gains more than eight cents to $2.60.

Gas pump

(PORTLAND, Ore.) - Pump prices are at a seven-month high. The national average passes the $2.50 a gallon mark, jumping ten cents in the past week to nearly $2.53.

Oregon's average for regular unleaded gains eight and a half cents to $2.60. AAA Oregon Public Affairs Director Marie Dodds says, "Crude oil prices have increased about 70 percent since the start of the year, going from about $40 a barrel to $68 this week. Pump prices have also risen dramatically, thanks to rising oil costs and lower refinery production. Scheduled maintenance and some unexpected problems have kept U.S. refineries operating at less than full capacity."

Several factors are helping to spur crude's climb, including heavy investments based on confidence of a turnaround in the global economy, a weaker dollar, and comments by OPEC that there are signs of a recovery in oil demand, particularly in Asia.

A weak dollar raises the prices of imported commodities to U.S. buyers, and makes the same products less expensive to holders of stronger currencies.

Dodds says, "Several weeks ago, AAA projected that the national average for regular unleaded would top out somewhere around $2.50 a gallon this summer. But that was based on crude oil remaining at about $50 per barrel.

With crude's rapid rise, we could now see the national average reach $2.75, and Oregon's average could get close to $3. Prices could go higher if there's some sort of disruption that damages refineries or other oil infrastructure, such as a storm or geopolitical tensions."

Despite the recent increases, we're still paying about a dollar-fifty less for gas than a year ago, when Oregon's average was already over $4 a gallon at $4.10 and the national average was $3.98. Retail pump prices last hit $3 a gallon last October, when crude was around $75 per barrel. Crude reached a record high of $147 last July.

Salem has the cheapest gas in Oregon with drivers paying an average of $2.570 for regular. In Portland motorists are paying slightly more at $2.572. The average price for a gallon of regular in the Eugene/Springfield area is $2.604. The average in the Medford/Ashland area is $2.628. Drivers in Vancouver, Washington are paying an average of $2.618 for regular.

All 50 states and the District of Columbia have averages for regular unleaded at or above $2 a gallon for the third week in a row, and 27 states and D.C. are at $2.50 a gallon or more.

After 48 weeks with the most expensive gas in the country, Alaska gets bumped out of the top spot by Hawaii where regular is $2.83, followed by California at $2.78, Alaska at $2.77, Michigan at $2.76 and Illinois at $2.71. Washington is 7th most expensive at $2.69, up seven cents from last week.

Oregon is 13th most expensive down from tenth last week.

South Carolina has the least expensive gas again this week at $2.33.

Diesel prices are also on the rise but are less than regular unleaded. The national average rises seven cents to $2.39, while Oregon’s average gains three cents to $2.45. Hawaii has the highest statewide average price for diesel again this week at $3.81, followed by Alaska at $3.44, New York at $2.67, Connecticut at $2.64, and California at $2.62.

Oregon's average diesel price is 15th most expensive down from 13th last week. Washington's diesel price adds three cents to $2.57 and is seventh highest, down from sixth last week. A year ago, the national average for diesel was $4.79 and Oregon's average was $4.81.

Source: AAA

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.


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