In just the last few weeks, Treasure Valley gas prices have increased by nearly 75 cents. Low oil prices caused the cost of gas to drop to less than $1.80 per gallon late last year. Oil prices are still low, but now gas is at $2.53.
AAA Idaho’s Dave Carlson says there’s plenty of oil in the market, but the price of gas keeps fluctuating because fuel intended for Idaho was likely diverted to California after an explosion at an Exxon Mobil refinery in Torrance.
“A shortage in one market creates opportunity in another market,” says Carlson. “That’s our strong suspicion, that gasoline intended for Idaho use ends up in another market where it can make more money. That means you create a shortage in this market.” Gas in California is selling for more than $3 per gallon.
He says low oil prices and a recent strike at some refineries have not had much effect on gas prices going up.
Carlson says the outlook for the rest of this year looks good for drivers. But he says expect more regional volatility. “You’ve got 40 and 50 year old refineries that are subject to more unplanned maintenance, the breakdowns and the fires,” says Carlson. “Those are the things that can cause gas prices regionally to shoot up and we see more of that each year.”
The average cost of a gallon of gas is $2.41 in Idaho. Carlson says that’s still better than what it was last March. “We’re a dollar less that we were a year ago. It was a year ago that the average price for the year was $3.40. We’re not going to come close to that, even with the volatility in the regional markets,” says Carlson. “For this year, we can expect lower gasoline prices, good availability, and prices south of $3.”
Last summer, Idahoans were paying an average of $3.75 a gallon.
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