Gas Pump

Idaho still bucking the national trend as $80/barrel oil breaks budgets across the U.S.

It’s been another week of bad news for drivers across the country, but Idaho continues to buck the trend of rising gas prices – at least for now.  According to AAA, ten state averages jumped by a dime or more this week, and Ohio led the way with a staggering 15-cent increase.  Meanwhile, in a turn of relatively good fortune, Gem State prices dropped by half a penny over the same time period.

Today, the U.S. average price for regular is $3.34, which is six cents more than a week ago and 15 cents more than a month ago.  Idaho’s average price currently sits at $3.72, which is a nickel less than a month ago.  This week, the Gem State still ranks 6th in the nation for most expensive fuel.

“With the price of crude oil well above $80 per barrel, it’s getting very expensive to fill up,” says AAA Idaho public affairs director Matthew Conde.  “We haven’t taken a hit here like in other parts of the country, but the way things are going, it’s only a matter of time before the other shoe drops.”

The West Texas Intermediate benchmark for crude oil is currently trading near $82/barrel.  Domestic crude inventories are about 13 percent lower than this time last year, and tight supplies and concerns about future production are keeping the cost of crude high.  If stock levels dip this week, oil prices could climb even higher, bringing higher gas prices in the process.

As expected, the return of fall weather has lowered the demand for fuel, but the high price of crude oil continues to block big savings from reaching the pump.  International production cuts and predictions of a colder winter (and a forecasted increase in demand for products like heating oil on the East Coast) have stoked market uncertainty.

“If OPEC wasn’t operating under so many self-imposed production constraints, there would be another 8 or 9 million barrels of crude sitting in the market each day, and prices could be much better,” Conde said.  “But with the holidays just around the corner and a high likelihood of a busy automobile travel season, it feels like we could be heading for an ‘uh-oh’ moment.”

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