According to AAA, Nevada recorded an average of $3.54 per gallon just a week ago with Sparks registering the highest price in the state at $3.74. While Reno loomed only 2 cents behind, Sparks saw a 35-cent jump in its most expensive price, which was 93 cents more than the state’s average during January.
AAA Nevada Spokesperson Cynthia Harris said factors such as refinery issues, crude oil hikes and the switch in gasoline composition by refineries resulted in the current price jump. Harris said switching from winter to summer blend gasoline is happening in California, and nationwide, which is supplying Sparks and Reno with higher priced gasoline.
“Refinery issues could mean unscheduled closures due to maintenance or malfunction in the California area,” Harris said Tuesday morning. “The price of crude oil has gone up and there is a higher demand for gasoline right now, probably due to a growing confidence in the nation. As summer approaches and more refineries switch to their summer blends, we will likely see the price continue to rise.”
Harris noted that change in the national average “typically results from escalating geopolitical tensions or extreme weather disturbances.” She said the reactionary nature of gas pricing often means speculation can result in ebb and flow of prices. As of now, the establishment of the summer blend is in progress and until it is completed, prices are likely to remain on the rise.
“Different regions have different times for when they will complete their summer blends,” Harris said, “But by the spring, all of them will be transferred from the winter blend. In the Reno and Sparks area, the summer blend will be in full effect by May 1. According to analysts, some refineries have already begun producing their summer blend, which means many refineries will be getting rid of what’s left of their winter blend.”
Prices listed on GasBuddy.com Tuesday afternoon showed the lowest price for gas in Sparks and Reno as $3.63 at Costco and Sam’s Club and the highest as $4.09 at Shell. GasBuddy also showed the price of crude oil at more than $95 per barrel and the national price of gasoline at $3.71.
“At some point the price will stabilize, barring an unforeseen event, but it will probably continue to rise until the summer blend is instituted,” Harris said. “There could be issues like storms or increases in crude oil, so it is hard to speculate, even though everyone does to some point.”
According to AAA, the Pacific Coast states (Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington) hold the highest combined national average at $4.01. The Mountain West and Southwest regions neighboring the Pacific Coast hold averages of $3.41 and $3.56, respectively.
According to the United States Energy Information Administration, West Coast states, not including California, registered an average of $3.70 during the third week in February 2012. The same statistic tallied prices of $3.39 and $2.80 in 2011 and 2010 respectively.