Gas prices remain stagnant amid tumbling stock and oil markets
Mar. 18—Despite the sour economic news stemming from the recent collapses of commercial financial institutions Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank, the first major bank failures since the 2008 financial crisis, roiling the stock and oil markets, the national average for a gallon of regular gasoline remains stable.
Sitting at a current average of $3.46, the national average for unleaded gas hasn't decreased in more than a month, instead rising by four cents. Compared to a year ago, however, gas prices have dropped more than 84 cents. Meanwhile, the global oil price plunged to around $65 per barrel earlier this week, a level not seen since August 2021.
The current freefall in oil processing costs has some gas analysts advising patience for consumers looking for relief the next time they fill up their tanks.
"Given that the cost of oil accounts for 55 percent of what we pay for gas, it's fair to wonder how soon prices will drop at the pump," said Andrew Gross, a spokesperson for the American Automobile Association (AAA). "Gas stations paid for the fuel that is in their underground tanks weeks ago when oil was nearly $15 more a barrel. So it will take time for any savings due to cheaper oil to be seen at the pump. And that is assuming the oil price does not rise again."
According to new data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), gas demand increased last week to 8.59 million barrels a day, a rise of 30,000 barrels compared to the week before. Gross said the rule of thumb is that increased demand amid tighter supply would push pump prices higher; however, lower oil prices have countered this effect. If crude oil prices keep falling, drivers could see pump prices decline.
For commuters in the Grays Harbor area, it could mean a return of gas prices sub-$4 per gallon in certain areas. According to data released by AAA as of Thursday, March 16, Grays Harbor County currently has the fifth-highest average price for a gallon of unleaded gas at more than $4.41, trailing only San Juan, King, Jefferson and Pacific counties. The Harbor is also nearly 18 cents higher than the average cost across Washington, which currently sits at more than $4.24 per gallon.
Although the Evergreen State has seen a decrease in its average gas prices by nearly 50 cents over the last year, prices have risen about nine cents compared to a month ago. Washington currently ranks as the fourth-highest state for the average cost of a gallon of gas, trailing only Hawaii, California and Nevada.
Harborite drivers looking for the cheapest gas can look no further than what's available in the urban municipalities of Aberdeen and Hoquiam. Despite fluctuations in prices for plus-grade and premium-grade gasoline, unleaded gas has remained steady for a county low of $4.09 per gallon. The price vastly outperforms prices seen in the East County area as well as the North Beach and South Beach communities where gas prices average upward of $4.59 per gallon.
Contact Reporter Allen Leister at 360-463-3572 or firstname.lastname@example.org