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We may see more Canadians filling up in Whatcom County

Shell station gas prices at Ohio and King streets in Bellingham, Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018.
Shell station gas prices at Ohio and King streets in Bellingham, Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018. pdwyer@bhamherald.com

Gas prices will rise in 2018, but it should be a steady increase rather than a spike.

That’s the assessment of GasBuddy in its latest forecast report. It predicts the average household will pay $1,898 for gas in 2018, up $133 from last year and the highest annual total since 2014.

In recent years the peak was in 2012, when the average household paid $2,659.

GasBuddy predicts the highest daily average in Seattle will be in the $3.15-$3.45 per gallon range. Washington state and the West Coast in general will continue to have higher prices than most of the country, but it won’t be a big increase, said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy.

“Motorists... should find some solace in knowing we won’t come anywhere near record prices this year while most of the country will continue to see plenty of prices in the $2 per gallon range,” DeHaan said.

One interesting aspect of this report for Whatcom County is the forecast for Canada. Because of a variety of factors, including a stronger U.S. dollar and an increase in export demand, Canadians are expected to see a bigger increase in prices in 2018. The growing price difference for gas at a U.S. pump compared to those in Canada may increase the number of Canadians coming into Washington state to fill up, DeHaan said.

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Chevron station at Iowa and King streets in Bellingham, Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018. Philip A. Dwyer pdwyer@bhamherald.com

GasBuddy’s forecast cites several factors for why it expects to see prices rise. The biggest is OPEC’s decision to cut oil production, which has lowered U.S. oil inventories by nearly 50 million barrels compared to a year ago.

The report noted that something out of the ordinary, such as an extended shutdown of a refinery, will quickly send prices higher because “gasoline is very much a just-in-time commodity.”

Dave Gallagher: 360-715-2269, @BhamHeraldBiz

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