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Gas prices, fueling up

Ray Woolley, of Filer fills up his tank Dec. 1, 2017, at the Maverik gas station in Twin Falls.

TWIN FALLS — For the past six weeks, Idahoans have been getting a better price at the pump compared with many other drivers around the nation.

AAA Idaho reports that gas prices in Idaho are typically 25 to 30 cents higher than the national average. But that hasn’t been the case since Feb. 18, and on Monday the state’s average gas price ranked 32nd in the country at $2.51 per gallon of regular gas. Prices in Twin Falls County were even lower, around $2.48 per gallon.

Gas prices have been higher especially in the Great Lakes and New England areas, which experienced more volatility due to winter storms and fuel supply, AAA Idaho’s Matthew Conde said in a phone interview Monday. But more demand this spring will put pressure on prices nationwide.

“There’s a real likelihood we could hit $3 a gallon around Memorial Day,” Conde said. “It’s just that typical seasonal trend.”

Gas prices typically rise about this time of the year as suppliers switch to more expensive summer-blend fuel and demand increases due to seasonal travel.

The good news is, prices are expected to stay below 2018 levels, which peaked in Idaho at $3.26 on Aug. 27. The U.S. is producing more oil than ever before, Conde said, at nearly 12 million barrels per day. The county is expected to surpass Saudi Arabia and become the No. 2 oil exporter in the world.

Domestic crude oil production has increased by 2 million gallons per day, exceeding the 1.2 million barrel production cut that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries put into place. But as a result, OPEC may decide to curb supply even more in order to raise prices, he said. It’s as if oil exporting countries around the world are waiting to see who blinks first, Conde said.

“There’s maybe a little game of international ‘chicken’ here,” he said.

Consumers, meanwhile, have become used to higher gas prices, and these days don’t typically change their travel behavior until prices reach $3.50 per gallon.

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