South Sound gas prices, which fell steeply from late November until early this month, are riding the escalator again.
At an average of $2.49 a gallon Thursday, prices for unleaded regular in the South Sound are 11 cents a gallon higher than at the same time last week. Those average prices hit their low, $2.16 a gallon, early this month. In the last month, prices have jumped by 23 cents a gallon, according to TacomaGasPrices.com.
The last time the average price was hovering near $2.50 a gallon was in early January.
While the news of escalating prices is bad for motorists, the fuel cost situation still is much more favorable than at this time in 2014. Then average gas prices were some 85 cents a gallon higher than now.
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The price leader in the Tacoma area is the Arco station at Gravelly Lake Drive Southwest and Pacific Highway Southwest where fuel is being sold for $2.27 a gallon. Five other Pierce County stations were selling gas Thursday for less than $2.30 a gallon.
In Thurston County, the low price leader was another Arco station at 7291 Martin Way E. Gas there was $2.33 a gallon. In Federal Way, Costco was the lowest price fuel source at $2.27 a gallon.
On the national scene, three states, Montana, Idaho and Utah, still have average gas prices less than $2.00 a gallon. Utah prices are the lowest at $1.94 per gallon on average.
Some energy analysts say the price increase trend may not last. Crude prices began rising above $50 a barrel earlier this month, but have retreated to $49.20 Thursday. A new report shows crude oil inventories rising as gas inventories remain stable.
Producers have taken hundreds of rigs out of production since the crude price decline began in mid-summer when crude hit a high of $107 a barrel.