True to predictions from some oil industry experts (and contrary to the doomsday predictions of others) gas prices are falling rapidly in Tacoma, but they’ve got a long way to go before they’re anywhere near the national average.
According to the News Tribune’s Gas Deal Finder, local gas prices have dropped from an average of $4.312 a gallon a week ago to $4.205 today. That’s a 10.7 cent difference.
And 11 stations, most of them along I-5 in Fife and the Port of Tacoma area, are selling a gallon of regular for less than $4 a gallon. The shared prize for the lowest price goes to Love’s on Port of Tacoma Road and Shell in Fife on Pacific Highway East. Both were selling regular for $3.98 a gallon Thursday morning.
Before the Memorial Day weekend, several petroleum analysts had predicted gas would rise by 10 to 35 cents a gallon on the West Coast.
Prices rose a few cents but not to that level.
Credit the restart of Washington’s largest refinery at Cherry Point and the end of maintenance shutdowns by other West Coast refineries for finally building up reserves of gas and moving prices lower.
The BP refinery at Cherry Point was shut down after a fire in February until late last month.
Sen. Maria Cantwell is calling for an investigation whether BP and other refiners prolonged maintenance and other refinery shutdowns to pump up gas costs along the West Coast.
Washington and other West Coast states are an island among the gasoline markets nationwide because only a few refineries supply West Coast markets.
As crude oil prices have declined in recent weeks, national gas prices have declined steeply. The national average price for a gallon of regular Thursday was $3.583. That’s down from $3.765 a month ago.