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May-26-2009 14:27printcomments

Gas Prices Edge Higher to Kick Off Summer Driving Season

Memorial Day has come and gone, and pump prices are still edging up. Oregon's average for regular unleaded gains eight cents in the past week to $2.51 while the national average jumps up 11 cents to $2.43. Still, prices are about a buck-fifty a gallon less than a year ago.

Gas prices

(PORTLAND, Ore.) - Memorial Day traditionally signals the start of the summer driving season, and pump prices continue to rise. The national average for regular unleaded jumps 11 cents in the past week to $2.43, while Oregon's average increases eight cents to $2.51.

AAA Oregon Public Affairs Director Marie Dodds says, "Gas prices have jumped almost 30 cents in the past month, due in part to the rising cost of crude oil. Crude started the year around $40 a barrel, spent most of the spring at about $50 and then has been hovering around $60 per barrel the last couple weeks."

Crude today is trading around $62 per barrel today. One reason crude prices are higher is that violence in Nigeria has cut off oil pipelines. Nigeria is Africa's biggest exporter of crude oil.

OPEC is scheduled to meet this Thursday in Vienna and the oil cartel is expected not to change current production quotas. Many analysts believe that further reductions now would slow any global economic recovery. Late last year, OPEC announced cutbacks when the price of crude dipped below $34 per barrel in December. Crude peaked at a record high of $147 per barrel last July.

Despite the recent hikes in pump prices, we're paying much less for gas than a year ago when the Oregon average was $3.96 and the national average was $3.94. Prices peaked at more than $4 a gallon last July. AAA doesn't believe gas prices will go that high again this summer. Dodds says, "At this point, $4 a gallon gas seems highly unlikely, unless we see some sort of disruption in the flow of gasoline or crude oil. And it's doubtful we'll see our national average even go as high as $3 a gallon."

In Salem, drivers are paying an average of $2.476 for regular. Interestingly, Medford/Ashland motorists are seeing the second best average price in Oregon of $2.479. This is extremely unusual as Portland. where the average cost of gas is $2.484, often rates as the best deal in the state. Regular in Eugene/Springfield is going for an average of $2.523, and drivers in the Vancouver, Washington area are paying an average of $2.552.

AAA says all 50 states and the District of Columbia have averages for regular unleaded at or above $2 a gallon for the second week in a row.

The most expensive gas in the country for the 48th week in a row is Alaska at $2.74, followed by Hawaii at $2.71, California at $2.67, Washington at $2.62 (up eight cents from last week) and Illinois at $2.59. Oregon is tenth most expensive down from eighth last week. South Carolina has the least expensive gas at $2.26.

Diesel prices are up slightly. The national average rises three cents to $2.32, while Oregon’s average gains half a cent to $2.41.

Hawaii has the highest statewide average price for diesel again this week at $3.80, followed by Alaska at $3.41, New York at $2.61, Connecticut at $2.61, and District of Columbia at $2.59.

Oregon's average diesel price is 13th most expensive for the third week in a row. Washington's diesel price also remains constant at $2.55 and is sixth highest, down from fifth last week.

A year ago, the national average for diesel was $4.77 and Oregon's average was $4.79.

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kurt lucke May 27, 2009 7:08 pm (Pacific time)

nice facts, But do these prices make sense with the current cost of crud oil, pandp costs and federal/state taxes?

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