Prices at the gasoline stations in Clatskanie and across Columbia County have stabilized, according to the weekly AAA pump survey.

Despite crude oil price fluctuation and growing geopolitical concerns with Iran in the last week, pump prices are fairly steady. For the week, the national average for regular remains at $2.58 a gallon. The Oregon average falls a penny to $3.00.

Demand

The U.S. Energy Information Administration shows U.S. demand for gasoline at 8.1 million b/d, which is the lowest reading for the first week of the year since January 2016. Gasoline stocks are at 251.6 million bbl – this is the highest start of a year on record and gasoline stocks have only measured this high two other times in EIA history.

“Decreasing demand for gasoline along with growing stocks are helping to minimize fluctuations in gas prices, despite tensions with Iran over the past week,” AAA Oregon/Idaho public affairs director Marie Dodds said.

Oregon is one of 40 states and the District of Columbia where gas prices are lower now than a week ago. Delaware (-5 cents) and Kentucky (-5 cents) have the largest weekly declines in the country. Michigan (+6 cents) has the biggest weekly jump.

This week there are five states with an average above $3 a gallon, down from six a week ago. For the ninth week in a row, there are no states with an average above $4 a gallon. California’s average had topped the $4 mark last fall.

The cheapest gas in the nation can be found in Missouri ($2.20) and Oklahoma ($2.26). For the 48th week in a row, no states have an average below $2 a gallon.

Oregon is one of 16 states with lower prices now than a month ago. The national average is one-and-a-half a cents more and the Oregon average is nine cents less than a month ago. This is the eighth-largest monthly decrease in the nation. Idaho (-21 cents) has the largest month-over-month decline, Utah (-17 cents) is second, and Nevada (-16 cents) is third. Virginia (+8 cents) has the largest month-over-month increase.

Drivers in all 50 states are paying more than a year ago. The national average is 33 cents more and the Oregon average is 12 cents more than a year ago. Illinois (+53 cents) has the biggest year-over-year increase.

This week's pump prices

The West Coast continues to have the highest pump prices in the nation with all the region’s states landing on the top 10 most expensive list. However, prices are falling in all states in the region.

Hawaii is most expensive for the fifth week in a row with California, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Alaska and Arizona rounding out the top seven. After 25 weeks at fifth, Oregon rises to fourth most expensive.

Pump prices in the region have mostly dropped but only by small amounts. Washington (-1 cent) and Oregon (-1 cent) have the largest decreases in the region. Alaska (+1 cent) saw the largest increase.

Increased gasoline stocks continue to help put downward pressure on pump prices in the region. According to EIA’s report for the week ending on January 3, total gas stocks in the region grew by just over 1 million bbl to 32.65 million bbl. The current supply level is nearly 2 million bbl higher than last year’s level at this time, which will likely continue to help prices in the region decline throughout the week.

Oil market dynamics

Crude oil prices moved lower last week after rising sharply following increased tensions between the U.S. and Iran after U.S. airstrikes in Baghdad killed Iran’s Major General Qassem Soleimani. The U.S. has announced economic sanctions instead of additional military strikes against Iran, and crude oil prices fell. If tension continues to cool in the region this week, crude prices could decrease further.

Additionally, crude prices decreased last week after EIA released new data that revealed total domestic crude inventories grew by 1.2 million bbl. They now sit at 431.1 million bbl, which is 8.7 million bbl lower than their level at this time in 2019.

At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI dropped by 52 cents to settle at $59.04. At the close of Monday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI fell 96 cents to close at $58.08. Today crude is trading around $58, compared to $63 a week ago. Crude prices are down about three percent in the last month and are about $6 per barrel more than a year ago.

Diesel

For the week, the national average slips a penny to $3.01 a gallon. Oregon’s average also loses a penny to $3.26. A year ago, the national average for diesel was $2.93 and the Oregon average was $3.11.

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