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Oct-13-2009 12:48printcomments

National Average Ticks Up while West Coast Prices Ease

But Oregon's Average is Still Fifth Most Expensive in the Country for Fifth Consecutive Week

Gas pump nozzle

(PORTLAND, Ore.) - The national average for regular unleaded is creeping up, while pump prices on the West Coast continue to slip. The national average gains two cents this week to $2.48, while Oregon's average drops a nickel to $2.73.

AAA Oregon Public Affairs Director Marie Dodds says it's the first time since early August we've seen the national average go up.

"The increase is fueled mostly by an increase in the price of crude oil, and the early blast of winter weather felt across parts of the U.S. Even though prices here on the West Coast are decreasing, California, Washington and Oregon are all in the top five states for the most expensive gas in the country for the fifth week in a row."

Crude oil is trading around $73 per barrel today, a six-week high. That's up from $69 a week ago. The driving force behind higher prices appears to be growing optimism for a global economic recovery.

Crude oil prices have shot up about five percent over the last three trading days. Adding to investor optimism is the latest report from the International Energy Agency forecasting a rise in global demand for oil that may begin as soon as the end of the year.

The IEA is also raising its demand forecast of global oil demand in 2009 by 200,000 barrels a day, and by 350,000 barrels a day for the next year.

Other factors impacting crude prices are the weak dollar and severe weather. Crude is bought and sold in dollars, and when the dollar weakens, foreign investors using other currencies can buy oil for a relative bargain, and this tends to send oil prices higher.

And the blast of early winter weather hitting parts of the U.S. has also helped to boost energy prices. A colder winter could mean higher demand for heating oil.

The lowest average cost for gas is in Salem, where drivers are paying an average of $2.673 for regular. Portland area motorists are seeing an average of $2.692.

The Eugene/Springfield area is seeing an average of $2.758 and in the Medford/Ashland region, the average price for a gallon of gas is $2.809. Residents in the Vancouver, Washington area are paying an average of $2.777.

AAA reports that three states have averages for regular unleaded at or above $3 a gallon, same as last week. For the fifth week in a row, the top five most expensive states are: Alaska with regular unleaded at $3.37, followed by Hawaii at $3.25, California at $3.02, Washington at $2.78 (down eight cents from last week and 4th most expensive for the 18th consecutive week) and Oregon at $2.73 (Fifth most expensive for the fifth week in a row). South Carolina replaces Missouri as the state with the least expensive gas at $2.25.

Diesel prices are holding steady or easing in many markets. The national average remains at $2.62, while Oregon’s average drops a penny to $2.78.

Hawaii has the highest statewide average price for diesel again this week at $3.87, followed by Alaska at $3.56, Washington at $2.90 (down two cents and third highest for the fifth week in a row), California at $2.88 and New York at $2.84.

Oregon's average diesel price is seventh most expensive, up from eighth last week. A year ago, the national average for diesel was $3.84 and Oregon's average was $3.83.

Source: Oregon AAA

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