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Sep-08-2009 14:15printcomments

Gas Prices Hold Steady after Labor Day Weekend

OPEC Not Expected to Cut Production at its Wednesday Meeting.

Gas pump

(PORTLAND, Ore.) - Gas prices remain fairly stable this week with the Oregon average for regular unleaded holding steady at $2.82 and the national average dropping three cents to $2.58.

AAA Oregon Public Affairs Director Marie Dodds says, "We've seen a mixture of positive and negative economic news throughout the summer, and without a clear direction of where the economy might be headed, crude oil has spent much of the summer around $70 a barrel."

Dodds says we've also not seen dramatic swings in pump prices, and in fact, gas prices are within about a nickel of where they were a month ago. Here in Oregon, gas prices started the traditional summer travel season at about $2.50 on Memorial Day weekend, and ended the summer travel period at $2.82 on Labor Day.

Crude today is trading at about $71 per barrel compared to about $70 a week ago. Every time oil prices have flirted with the $75 mark, a dose of economic realism has served to bring prices back down.

Dodds says, "Crude oil reached a ten-month high near $75 in early August, but prices quickly fell again because of lackluster consumer demand, disappointing unemployment data and other economic concerns. The U.S. economy will have to offer some undeniable evidence that it is on the road to recovery for crude prices to break out of the $60 to $80 price range."

One event this week that may impact prices is the OPEC meeting scheduled for tomorrow in Vienna. The oil cartel will discuss its oil production levels. Given the current condition of the global economy, it's doubtful OPEC will make any significant cuts in the amount of oil being produced.

Last December, OPEC announced a record four million barrel per day cut in oil production, and crude began to rebound from lows around $32 per barrel. OPEC supplies about 40 percent of the world's oil.

Gas prices are about a dollar lower than a year ago, when the national average was $3.66 and Oregon's average was $3.75.

Salem has the cheapest average price for gas here in Oregon, with a gallon selling for around $2.785. Portland comes in second with drivers paying around $2.789 for regular. The average price for gas in the Eugene/Springfield area is $2.842, and Medford/Ashland drivers are paying an average of $2.887. Drivers in the Vancouver, Washington are paying an average of $2.863 for regular.

Three states have averages for regular unleaded at or above $3 a gallon, same as last week. Alaska has the most expensive gas in the nation this week with regular unleaded at $3.39, followed by Hawaii at $3.31, California at $3.11, Washington at $2.93 (up nearly half a cent from last week and 4th most expensive for the 13th consecutive week) and New York at $2.82. Oregon is sixth most expensive, up from seventh last week. Missouri is least expensive at $2.30.

Diesel prices are also holding fairly steady. The national average drops two cents to $2.67, while Oregon’s average gains half a cent to $2.76. Hawaii has the highest statewide average price for diesel again this week at $3.94, followed by Alaska at $3.58, District of Columbia at $2.99, California at $2.95, and Washington at $2.92 (gaining two cents and fifth highest, up from seventh last week). Oregon's average diesel price is 12th, up from 15th last week. A year ago, the national average for diesel was $4.22 and Oregon's average was $4.34.

Source: Oregon AAA

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