Gasoline prices are plummeting across the country but fuel in Oregon, as well as other western states, is much more expensive than the national average.
That’s actually a typical situation, although the nationwide drop, which reflects decreased demand due to coronavirus restrictions and crude oil prices at their lowest level since 2002, is not normal, said Marie Dodds, public affairs director for AAA Oregon/Idaho.
“The West Coast usually has the highest prices,” Dodds said.
Oregon, with an average price of $2.80 per gallon for regular unleaded, down a dime over the past week, ranks as the 4th-highest price among states. Oregon has been in that spot for eight straight weeks.
The national average is $2.10.
Oklahoma has the cheapest gas, with an average of $1.70 per gallon. A total of 29 states have an average below $2.
Hawaii, as it often does, has the highest average price at $3.44, followed by California ($3.17) and Washington ($2.87).
Dodds said the main reason that gas prices in West Coast states typically exceed the national average, and often by 50 cents and more, is that there are relatively few fuel refineries in the region (none in Oregon), and the distance to major refining states such as Texas is such that transportation costs boost prices at the pump.
Another factor, Dodds said, is California law requiring gas sold in that state contain less carbon to reduce pollution.
That gas blend is more expensive because only certain refineries produce it, she said, and sometimes other states, including Oregon, end up selling the California-blend fuel.
Regionally, Baker County’s average price of $2.83 ranks second-highest among Eastern Oregon counties, behind Wallowa County ($3.02 — the highest price in the state).
Other average prices among counties:
• Union, $2.69
• Malheur, $2.63
• Grant, $2.73
• Harney, $2.75
• Umatilla, $2.66
• Morrow, $2.70
Thirteen of Oregon’s 36 counties have a higher average price than Baker County’s. Eleven of those counties are west of the Cascades, including Multnomah, the state’s most populous county, which ranks 2nd behind Wallowa County at $2.98 per gallon.
Linn County, in the Willamette Valley, has the lowest average at $2.46.