Oil price analysts are predicting good news for Labor Day holiday travelers: the lowest average gas prices in four years.
But that prediction is unlikely to include the Pacific Northwest where gasoline prices have declined recently but remain more than 11 cents more than at this time last year.
According to TacomaGasPrices.com, the average price of a gallon of unleaded regular Wednesday in Tacoma was $3.805 a gallon. That’s down .9 cent from Tuesday and 1.7 cents from a week ago.
At this time last summer, unleaded regular gas was selling for an average of $3.693 a gallon, more than 11 cents less than the Wednesday average.
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Nationwide, the average price of a gallon of regular, $3.422, was about 38 cents less than the Tacoma average. The national average on the same day last year was $3.533.
Analysts at GasBuddy.com attribute the relatively low prices nationwide to cheaper domestic and global crude oil prices. Those prices for domestic crude have declined by about $9 a barrel since Memorial Day and for overseas crude by $7 a barrel. Those prices declines have come despite unrest in the Middle East and Ukraine and health issues in Africa.
Analysts also note that U.S. refineries were producing at a higher rate than last year, increasing the supply.
The Pacific Northwest normally has gas prices higher than the national average in part because of geographic isolation from the major pipeline networks that distribute crude and finished products in the nation’s heartland.
Careful shoppers, however, can find gas being sold much below the average at some stations in the South Sound. TacomaGasPrices.com reports 11 stations, mostly Arco and Costco outlets, are selling gas in Tacoma for less than 3.60 a gallon.
In Olympia, the lowest price, $3.65 a gallon, was reported at an Arco station at 7291 Martin Way East. In Federal Way, the lowest price gas, $3.63 a gallon, was reported at an Arco station at 31855 Pacific Highway South and at a Costco store at 35100 Enchanted Parkway South.