After months of soaring gas prices, Idaho drivers were finally able to catch their breath, at least a little, this week. According to AAA, the state average increased by just three cents, the smallest weekly jump since January.
But the slowdown could be short-lived – increased demand due to the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines and the start of road trip season may push pump prices even higher in the weeks ahead.
“No one’s happy about paying more to fill up, but after several weeks in a row of nickel increases and some big double-digit jumps in March, it kind of feels like we got to hit the ‘pause’ button this week,” says AAA Idaho public affairs director Matthew Conde. “But the weather’s getting warmer, and growing demand has the potential to create another wave of significant price hikes.”
Idaho’s average price for regular is $3.06 per gallon, which is 36 cents more than a month ago and 85 cents more than a year ago. The national average increased by a penny to $2.87 per gallon, which is 12 cents more than a month ago and 93 cents more than a year ago. States experienced a wide range of fluctuating prices this week, from a 15-cent increase in Ohio to a three-cent reduction in Florida.
Gasoline demand was reported at 8.9 million barrels per day this week, an increase of 4% from the week prior. In response, gasoline stocks tightened to 230.5 million barrels, the lowest level this year. If demand keeps climbing, supplies could shrink even further, raising prices in the process.
“On a positive note, crude oil prices have leveled off somewhat, keeping a bad situation from getting worse. After hitting a 12-month high at $66 per barrel last month, the price has been hovering closer to $60 per barrel lately,” Conde said. “If crude holds steady, that could help keep the price of finished gasoline from being quite so chaotic this spring and summer.”
OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) recently announced plans to increase oil production by 350,000 barrels per day in May, which could further stabilize prices at the pump.
Here’s a selection of Idaho gas prices as of April 5: Boise - $3.20; Coeur d’Alene - $2.71; Franklin - $3.17; Idaho Falls - $2.98; Lewiston - $2.82; Pocatello - $3.07 and Twin Falls - $3.10.