Around this time last year, regular gas was $3.39 a gallon at the Forest Park Chevron at Rucker Avenue and 41st Street in Everett. (Andrea Brown / Herald file)

Around this time last year, regular gas was $3.39 a gallon at the Forest Park Chevron at Rucker Avenue and 41st Street in Everett. (Andrea Brown / Herald file)

After years of easy riding, gas prices going up

The jump — 38 cents in a month — owes to refinery maintenance and geopolitics, one industry expert says.

EVERETT — Slowdowns at West Coast oil refineries, including two in Washington, have contributed to a run-up in the cost of gas.

Prices are likely to hit their highest levels since 2014, said Dan McTeague, a senior analyst with GasBuddy, a gas-price tracking website. Early this week, a gallon of regular would set you back about $3.50 in the Everett area.

Factors in the increase include recent planned maintenance at Shell’s Puget Sound Refinery in Anacortes and BP’s Cherry Point Refinery, plus at least a half-dozen outages in California.

“Prices have risen rather dramatically,” McTeague said. “I think prices are going to go a little higher this summer. It looks like we’re headed toward another year of very expensive gasoline.”

As of Monday, motorists in Seattle were paying an average $3.48 per gallon, according to GasBuddy. That’s up 9.6 cents in a week, 38.1 cents over the past month and nearly 20 cents compared to a year ago.

That was more than the national rise of 7.4 cents per gallon over the past week. That follows nine straight weeks of rising prices across the nation, said McTeague, who is based in Buffalo, New York.

The average cost of a gallon of regular gasoline in the United States stood at $2.83 Monday. California pump prices are well over $4 per gallon.

Gas hasn’t cost this much in April since 2014. McTeague believes prices will stop short of the $3.80-per-gallon level in Seattle from that period.

Refinery maintenance is responsible for much of the recent fluctuation, and it was expected.

“Refineries tend to use the slower period of time before the the summer ramp up,” he said. “You don’t want them breaking down, especially when you need them the most.”

Geopolitics is playing a role, too. There’s serious instability in Venezuela and sanctions on Iran, two major oil-producing countries.

While U.S. domestic demand for gasoline and diesel is flat-lining, with increased efficiency and electric vehicles, it’s still increasing in other parts of the world, McTeague said. Think India and China.

“That isn’t stopping the world’s thirst for oil,” he said. “… The entire world is using a lot more fuel than it ever has in the past.”

Noah Haglund: 425-339-3465; Twitter: @NWhaglund.

Gasoline per gallon

  Seattle U.S. average
April 8, 2019 $3.48 $2.83
April 15, 2018 $3.28 $2.71
April 15, 2017 $2.94 $2.41
April 15, 2016 $2.36 $2.11
April 15, 2015 $2.82 $2.39
April 15, 2014 $3.80 $3.64
April 15, 2013 $3.72 $3.52
April 15, 2012 $4.14 $3.91
April 15, 2011 $3.92 $3.82
April 15, 2010 $3.07 $2.84
April 15, 2009 $2.31 $2.03

Source: GasBuddy

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