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‘Bump at the pump’ coming for Washington gas prices this week

(AP Photo)

As the rain comes down in Washington this week, gas prices are going up. A spike in gas prices is looming, making sooner-than-later the best time to fuel up this week.

“All in all, a bump at the pump,” said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis at Gas Buddy. “Nothing to panic about, just to be prepared for.”

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The gas price change that the United States currently faces is caused by the recent attack on oil facilities in Saudi Arabia. It’s a bit of a good news, bad news situation.

“The bad news, there will be minor increases coming for the next several days,” DeHaan said. “Oil prices jumped 14 percent (Monday). The Saudi attack shut down five million barrels a day of oil production. That is significant. That is just under what the US imports everyday …. gas prices in all of the country will begin to go up; many places have already.”

“I think prices will go up 10-20 cents a gallon at most at this point,” he said, noting that prices may stay higher for about a week.

AAA spokesperson Jeanette Casselano has also said that the “jump could end up being as much as a quarter per gallon” throughout September.

DeHaan points out that on Monday, Washington state switched to a cheaper form of gas that is used during the winter season. This could help mitigate any rise in price, as well.

Gas prices in Washington and beyond

While the U.S. doesn’t import as much oil from Saudi Arabia as it once did, DeHaan points out that petroleum is a global commodity. The Saudi facilities produce about 6 percent of the world’s oil supply. So the recent attack will affect most countries. Washington is not likely to see any record-setting gas prices as a result, however.

What’s different about the Saudi situation is that oil prices often are influenced by local factors, such as refinery outages. This is a global factor. Therefore, the Northwest will feel the same pain as a driver in Florida or New York.

“Some areas, some cities and states will see prices move up quicker, others might be playing catch up,” DeHaan said. “But at the end of the day this is going to be a race everyone is going to run and finish in the same place.”

The entire West Coast region is among the hardest hit by gas prices currently (Washington among the worst hit), though the gas price spike may not have struck just yet. The average price for a regular gallon of gas in Washington state was $3.189 Tuesday morning; much more than the national average of $2.592. Washington has the second worst gas in the nation (California’s average price was $3.645).

Mississippi has the best average price at $2.215, as of Tuesday morning.

Despite being higher than elsewhere in the U.S., Washington’s prices are down from just a month ago, when the average price was $3.239. A year ago, the average was $3.388.

While the Saudi oil facilities are being repaired, the United States is dipping into its Strategic Petroleum Reserve which should help alleviate prices. AAA also notes that the U.S. has been decreasing its reliance on Saudi Arabian oil. For example, the US imported 18,000 barrels during the first half of 2019. It imported 35,600 barrels during the first half of 2017.

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