Monday, January 30, 2023
Jan. 30, 2023

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Analyst: Gas prices likely to continue falling in Washington

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MOSES LAKE — It may be the welcome Christmas surprise this season is steeply falling gasoline prices, which have fallen more than $1.30 per gallon in the last six months and look to fall even more, according to Patrick DeHaan, the head of petroleum analysis at Gas Buddy.

“It could fall another 50 cents per gallon if nothing changes,” DeHaan said.

According to Gas Buddy’s Fuel Insights website, which tracks gasoline prices nationwide, gasoline prices in Washington averaged $4.13 per gallon of regular unleaded on Wednesday, down 61 cents from the first week of November and 21 cents from the previous week, and well off the high of $5.49 per gallon reported by the U.S. Energy Information Agency on June 20, 2022.

Fuel Insights reports the national average price for regular unleaded gasoline on Wednesday at $3.30 per gallon, though gasoline prices have dropped below $3 in a handful of states including Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Wisconsin.

In a blog posting at gasbuddy.com, DeHaan wrote that national average gasoline prices could fall below $3 per gallon by Christmas, and prices for diesel fuel have finally dropped below $5 per gallon, though supplies of diesel remain tighter than supplies of gasoline.

“Diesel is more sensitive to disruption,” he told the Columbia Basin Herald.

DeHaan said one reason gasoline prices have not fallen as sharply in Washington as they have elsewhere in the county is that four of the state’s five oil refineries were either running at reduced capacity or shut down completely for maintenance in early and mid-autumn.

The state’s five refineries, all located in the Puget Sound region, have a total refining capacity of 637,000 barrels per day. DeHaan said the 105,000-barrel-per-day Phillips 66 facility in Ferndale — the oldest refinery in Washington — was completely shut down for maintenance for more than a month this fall.

At 49.4 cents per gallon, Washington state gasoline taxes are the third-highest in the nation behind Pennsylvania (57.6 cents) and California (53.9 cents). However, because of additional state taxes levied on gasoline, California motorists pay an effective tax rate of 65.1 cents, while Washington drivers pay an effective tax rate of 52.4 cents, according to EIA data.

The federal gasoline tax is 18.4 cents per gallon, unchanged since 1993.

According to data available from the Market Insider website, the New York Mercantile Exchange price of the benchmark barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude for delivery to Cushing, Oklahoma, was trading at $72.60 per barrel in after-hours trading late Wednesday, down about 20% from late summer and well off the high of $123.70 on March 8 following the Feb. 24 Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Market Insider also reported that the price of NYMEX benchmark gasoline futures traded at $2.09 per gallon late Wednesday, down significantly from the high of $4.28 on June 9.

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