Idaho drivers may be tempted to do a double-take the next time they fill up. According to AAA, the Gem State saw the biggest monthly increase in the U.S. with a 20-cent jump in gas prices. The rising cost of crude oil continues to put upward pressure on the price of fuel. In fact, 2021 crude oil prices could top the highest price in 2020 as early as this week.
Crude oil accounts for 50 percent of the price at the pump, and the West Texas Intermediate has been steadily climbing since the beginning of the year despite relatively low fuel demand. Currently, a barrel of crude is trading near $60 a barrel, up $12 a barrel from January 1.
“There is strong market optimism that COVID-19 vaccines will help restore economic activity and bring some demand for fuel back online, but right now, demand is pretty modest - just 7.7 million barrels per day,” says AAA Idaho spokesman Matthew Conde. “This week’s cold weather may drop demand even more in the short term, but freezing conditions have also interrupted refinery activity and distribution in parts of the country, which may shrink supply in some areas.”
While Idaho’s state average has increased by 23 cents to begin the year, prices in the Treasure Valley have been even more turbulent, with drivers in the Boise area paying an average of 34 cents more per gallon than they did at the end of 2020.
If there’s a silver lining, drivers in Idaho are faring better than their counterparts across the country. The state’s current average is $2.45 a gallon for regular, which is 20 cents more than a month ago, but still eight cents cheaper than a year ago. On the other hand, the U.S. average currently sits at $2.52. That’s 14 cents more than a month ago and eight cents more than a year ago. Today, the Gem State is 27th in the country for most expensive gas prices.
“If we see higher crude oil prices over a sustained period of time coupled with a spike in gasoline demand as the warm weather returns, that could pack a serious punch for the family budget in the weeks ahead,” Conde said.
Here’s a selection of Idaho gas prices as of 2/16/21:
Boise - $2.55
Coeur d’Alene - $2.35
Franklin - $2.33
Idaho Falls - $2.34
Lewiston - $2.44
Pocatello - $2.35
Twin Falls - $2.36