The average Tacoma regular gas price hit $3.01 today, down nearly 49 cents from last year’s mid-May high, says AAA Washington
That’s slightly over the national average of $2.986 per gallon but nowhere near the price in Hawaii, $3.479 a gallon.
Don’t count on those prices going much lower, says Olympia-based gasoline guru Tim Hamilton, executive director of Automotive United Trades Organization.
“We’re on the floor now,” said Hamilton. “In Eastern Washington, we’re seeing prices going up already by six or seven cents a gallon.”
Some oil industry analysts see gas prices approaching $3.50 a gallon early this summer if demand remains good.
Gas prices in Tacoma hit an all-time high in mid-May last year with prices for regular at $3.459 a gallon.
Hamilton says how high prices will go depends on how car owners react to ever-rising prices at the pump.
Even a five percent reduction in driving could reverse the price rises and keep them relatively low.
A major disruption in supply — say a refinery fire — could push prices over $4 a gallon. A series of calamities coupled with unchecked demand could put prices over $5.
On the other hand, a major recession that cuts driving could depress crude oil and gas prices.
“The good news about a recession is that it will be cheaper to drive to the unemployment office,” he said.
If gas prices top out over $4 a gallon, you can meditate on this picture taken earlier this week at an ARCO station in Kent and pine for the “good old days” of late January.