After about a two-month dip, gas prices are climbing again in Washington state, especially west of the Cascades, where levels are once again close to the June peak.
At $5.45 a gallon, gas prices in the Seattle area are up 15% from early September when prices fell to their lowest price since April, according to an analysis of federal Energy Information Administration data.
The cost of a gallon of gas in Washington, as of Oct. 3, is $1.39 above the national average. Generally, the cost of gas is higher on the West Coast in part due to the higher state taxes levied on crude oil.
Tight supply and increased demand as more drivers fuel up are the main culprits, said AAA, adding that if the demand remains robust as supply tightens, drivers should brace for rising pump prices through the weekend.
At the end of September, EIA data show the national demand for gas grew 6% to 8.83 million barrels per day from the previous week, while national stocks of motor fuel shrunk 1.1% from the previous week to 212.2 million barrels.
West Coast consumers are hurting most
The dip in motor fuel stocks was more pronounced on the West Coast, which recorded a 3.4% drop – the most among the five national regions analyzed by the EIA.
This corresponds with the particularly stark regional contrast in gas prices at the moment. Energy data show the West Coast recorded the highest increases in gas prices this past week with prices climbing past $6 a gallon in California, followed by the Midwest states Ohio and Illinois, where the price is well below $4.
“At least six California refineries are undergoing maintenance, and there is limited pipeline supply to the West Coast from locations east of the Rockies,” said Andrew Gross, AAA spokesperson.
Meanwhile, the cost of fuel continued to drop on the East Coast in states like Florida and New York, the Rocky Mountain region covering Colorado, Montana and Idaho, and in Gulf Coast states including Texas.
Where gas is cheapest in Washington
Within Washington, Skamania County in Southwest Washington and the San Juan Islands reported the highest gas prices, according to AAA data. King County and other counties in the western parts of the state are right behind.
Gas prices in the eastern parts of the state are closer to those in the Rocky Mountain region, with Pend Oreille County on the Idaho border recording the lowest gas price of $4.67 a gallon.
Puget Sound-area consumers will likely find the best deals at the Safeway in Silverdale, Kitsap County, or the Walmart in Auburn in south King County, according to gas price tracker GasBuddy.com. Eastward, gas stations in Yakima and Kennewick offer the next best deals.