Though South Sound gas prices have been drifting slightly upward in the past week, they remain at bargain levels compared with this time last year.
Consider the cost of a 15-gallon fill-up Tuesday compared with the same day in 2014. At Tuesday’s South Sound average price per gallon, $2.794, that purchase would cost $41.91. At last year’s April 21 average price, $3.854 a gallon, the same quantity of gas would have cost $57.81. That’s a savings of $15.90 on a single fill-up.
Though the average price per gallon in the South Sound has risen from a low of $2.16 a gallon in early February, the average price Tuesday is lower than it’s been for nearly six years on April 21.
Gas prices typically rise fairly swiftly during the spring because refineries shut down for maintenance and for conversion to produce summertime grades of gasoline.
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The motivating factor behind the relative bargain prices for gasoline remains the decision by Saudi Arabia to continue producing crude oil at a normal pace despite a worldwide oversupply of crude. U.S. crude oil prices were around $55 per barrel Tuesday down from more than $100 a barrel in July last year. That’s when South Sound gas prices topped $4 a gallon.
Those crude prices softened on news Tuesday that Saudi Arabia was ending a three-week bombing campaign in Yemen. That campaign alarmed oil traders who feared that Saudi Arabia and Iran, two of the world’s largest oil producers, might get into a conflict. Saudi Arabia is backing the elected government in Yemen. Iran is backing the rebels.
The oil surplus continues building in the U.S. with nearly 3 million barrels now in storage. Production from the North Dakota oil fields continues to feed that surplus.
A handful of Arco stations in Pierce County on Tuesday were selling regular unleaded for less than $2.50 a gallon with Costco selling the fuel for $2.51 a gallon. Those were the lowest pump prices in the county according to tacomagasprices.com.
In the Olympia area, the lowest prices were at Arco stations at 10222 Martin Way E. and 7291 Martin Way E. Both those stations were selling gas for $2.59 a gallon. In Federal Way, the low price leaders were Costco at 35100 Enchanted Parkway S. and Arco at 31855 Pacific Highway S. Their prices were $2.53 a gallon.
The lowest average prices in the country Tuesday were in South Carolina where a gallon cost $2.22 on average. The highest prices were in California where prices were averaging $3.17 a gallon at the pump.