South Sound gasoline prices have risen nearly 30 cents a gallon in the last month, and they're showing signs of sustaining their upward growth as refineries begin cutting production to switch to summer gasoline blends.
Average gasoline prices in the Tacoma area Friday were $3.61 a gallon, more than 29 cents higher than they were a month ago and 8 cents higher than a week ago according to Tacomagasprices.com.
That price rise reflects declining refinery production as oil companies shut down part of their refining capacity to switch the equipment to producing summer blend gasoline. In normal years, prices will continue rising until Memorial Day and then begin a gradual fall that bottoms out just before Christmas.
Nationwide, average gasoline prices are also rising, but not as quickly as in the Pacific Northwest. During the time that Pacific Northwest gas prices have risen almost 30 cents, national average prices have jumped by 18 cents to $3.50 a gallon.
The least expensive gas was available Friday in the Tacoma area at Costco, several Arco stations and Safeway where unleaded regular was $3.43 at the pump.
The most economical fuel in Olympia is less expensive than the least expensive in Tacoma.
Two Arco stations in the Olympia area, both on Martin Way E., were selling gas for $3.36 and $3.37 a gallon Friday.
An Arco in Federal Way at 16000 SW 312th Street priced unleaded regular fuel as $3.39 a gallon Friday afternoon. Another Arco at 27202 Pacific Highway S. was selling regular for $3.41 a gallon.
Across the nation, South Carolina once again wins the prize for the least expensive gas, $3.20 a gallon on average. In the continental United States, California has the most expensive fuel, $3.95 a gallon. Hawaii holds the crown for most expensive gas in the country, $4.14 a gallon.