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Gas prices expected to peak soon

Oregon had the third highest increase in gas prices last week, but experts say prices may be about ready to top off.

The seasonal switch to a summer fuel blend is doing its usual number at the pumps, with Oregon jumping 8 cents to an average of $3.83 a gallon for regular unleaded.

“The national average is at its highest price since last July, while Oregon’s average is at its highest price since last August,” Marie Dodds, public affairs director of AAA Oregon/Idaho, said. “Both the national and Oregon averages are approaching the forecast high for 2014 made by AAA at the beginning of the year.”

But, she says, there is a ceiling approaching.

“I think we’re going to peak here in the next couple of weeks and then prices will start to level out again,” she said.

Refineries are required to start producing summer-blend gasoline by May 1, and in anticipation of this date, often go offline for scheduled maintenance at this time of year. The decrease in supply can cause prices in certain areas to rise, but fluctuations have been minimal thus far this season.

Over the past week, a number of refineries did have to temporarily shut down or restart to perform unscheduled maintenance. These supply disruptions during the planned changeover have the potential to put additional upward pressure on prices, and are worth monitoring as we approach the switchover deadline and enter peak driving season.

Dodds said she doesn’t think that this will have any long-term effects. That is something that may provide reason for optimism for vacationers.

“I think that prices will settle down,” she said, “and maybe even come down a little bit for the summer driving season.”

Oregon has moved up to ninth on the list of states with the most expensive gas prices.

The state had been out of the top 10 since October of last year, before moving back into that top-tier three weeks ago.

On the other end of the spectrum, Idaho is 46th, up from 49th last week, at $3.45 (up 6 cents). Montana has the cheapest gas in the nation for the third week in a row at $3.36 a gallon (up 4 cents).

To check fuel prices across Oregon and the nation, go to the AAA Fuel Price Finder at www.AAA.com.



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