Gas prices skyrocket as tight oil supply hits WA

Oct 11, 2022, 2:54 PM | Updated: 3:31 pm
gas prices...
Buying gasoline at big box grocery stores, like this one in Kirkland, can help you save at the gas pump. (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Gas prices continue to skyrocket in Washington state thanks to a tight supply of crude oil.

Prices above $5 a gallon nearing record highs

The average cost for unleaded gas in Seattle is $5.58 a gallon. We are pennies away from paying the most we ever have for gas. Here’s why.

According to AAA’s Public Affairs Manager Kelly Just, OPEC doesn’t effect Washington’s supply. It tightens the world supply. That makes the market price go up.

“For instance two weeks ago, crude was around $76 a barrel, and as of Monday it’s around $90,” Just said. “The fact that the price went up, it impacts us.”

EXPLAINER: How will OPEC+ cuts affect gas prices, inflation?

Just told us Washington gets most of its crude oil from Canada, and a little from Russia and North Dakota. So supplies are already tight because that small amount that would come from Russia has stopped because of the war in Ukraine.

Refineries shut down production in autumn

On top of that, fall is when refineries do their maintenance work. September and October is when refineries shut down production. Then they switch over to their less expensive winter blend. This year, some refineries put off maintenance until after the summer driving season in hopes of preventing prices from going even higher.

“We don’t have as much oil being produced, right now,” Just explained. “When one of the Washington refineries went off-line last week, that immediately took our production to 70% from 100%.” She said when a refinery goes off-line, that causes a big dip in the supply.

Some may wonder if hurricane season affects the cost of gas in Washington as well.

“It shouldn’t because that is not where our fuel comes from,” Just said. “However, because we are geographically isolated, it’s more difficult to get supply to begin with.” Because of that, west coast prices tend to be higher.

Washington gas prices higher than most states

Our state has higher gas taxes than most. We always start off at a higher level. Just told us this is the normal time for prices to go up. Gas prices were already so high this year that when they rose again, it took us to levels we haven’t seen.

So what can we do to help cut the cost at the pump?

  • Get a big box store membership. They usually discount their gas.
  • Make sure you get regular oil changes.
  • Pay with cash.
  • Use loyalty programs.
  • Schedule your gas runs on Wednesdays when gas is “supposedly” cheaper.

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Gas prices skyrocket as tight oil supply hits WA