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Gas prices on the rise, expected to continue

Bellingham’s average gas price on Tuesday was the second-highest among Washington’s major metro areas.
Bellingham’s average gas price on Tuesday was the second-highest among Washington’s major metro areas. The Bellingham Herald

Gasoline prices have risen just in time for the holidays, a trend that is expected to continue into January.

The average price for a gallon of gas in Bellingham was $2.58 on Tuesday, up 11 cents compared to a week ago and up 16 cents in the past year, according to data from AAA Washington. Gas prices have gone up across the country following OPEC’s announcement at the end of November that it will cut production.

It’s a bit unusual to see prices rise this time of year, said Gregg Laskoski, a senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy, which tracks fuel prices across the U.S. and Canada.

Typically prices go down during this time of year because of less demand. Prices then tend to rise in the spring. The price increase is in direct response to an expected drop in supply, he said.

While Laskoski expects incremental increases in the coming weeks, what comes next remains unclear. If crude prices continue to rise, domestic production is expected to increase.

However, OPEC still is concerned about losing market share and may again increase production, lowering prices. It also is unclear what Russia will do in terms of production, he said.

“This is like a poker game where everyone is bluffing at the same time,” Laskoski said. “Right now, it is a battle over market share.”

Bellingham’s average price on Tuesday was the second-highest among Washington’s major metro areas. Seattle had the highest, with an average of $2.66 a gallon. The Richland area had the least expensive, at $2.40 a gallon.

Dave Gallagher: 360-715-2269, @BhamHeraldBiz

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