“The national average price of gasoline is above $3 per gallon today for the 1,000th consecutive day for the first time on record. The current streak began on Dec. 23, 2010.” AAA Oregon/Idaho Public Affairs Director Marie Dodds says, “AAA projects the national average will remain above $3 for at least another thousand days barring a major economic recession.  Paying less than $3 per gallon may be automotive history for most Americans. The price may occasionally tick down below $3 a gallon in some areas, but the national average is likely to remain more costly as we head into the future.”

The Oregon average has been above $3 a gallon for about a month longer than the national average with the current streak beginning in November 2010. 

AAA forecasts the national average will remain above $3 per gallon for at least another thousand days barring a major economic recession.

Since the current streak began, consumers will have paid a national average of:
• $3.25 per gallon or higher for 913 total days
• $3.50 per gallon or higher for 643 total days
• $3.75 per gallon or higher for 189 total days
• $4.00 per gallon or higher for 0 days

For the week, the national average for regular unleaded drops a nickel to $3.51 while the Oregon average gains a penny to $3.70. Drivers in every state and Washington D.C. are paying less for gasoline than one year ago, but the size of the year-over-year discount varies. The national average is 35 cents less than the same day last year. The national year-over-year discount continues to increase and sits at its widest mark since April 21.  In Oregon, the current average is 31 cents lower than a year ago.  In Alaska and Wyoming, prices have declined by a dime or less, while in several Midwestern states, the drop has been greater than 45 cents.

The national average first surged above $3.00 per gallon for eight days immediately following Hurricane Katrina from Sept. 3-10, 2005. The longest previous streak above $3.00 per gallon was for 244 days from Feb. 17-Oct.17, 2008. The national average fell below $3.00 per gallon for 796 days from Oct. 18, 2008-Dec. 22, 2010 due to a weaker economy, which demands less gasoline and oil. As of today, the national average has remained above $3.25 per gallon for 265 consecutive days.

“Spending more on gasoline is a concern for consumers because it reduces the amount they have available to save or spend on other things they need.  Our leaders can help alleviate this economic burden by encouraging a national policy that stimulates production, limits price volatility, ensures greater efficiency and promotes alternative energy,” adds Dodds.

The national average price of gas so far this year is $3.57 per gallon, while the Oregon average price for the year so far is $3.71.  These prices should drop through December due to ample supplies, declining demand during the cooler months and the transition to cheaper, winter-blend gasoline.

Last year was the most expensive year on record with an annual average of $3.60 per gallon, followed by an annual average of $3.51 per gallon in 2011. The average U.S. household in 2012 spent $2,912 on gasoline, or just under four percent of income before taxes, according to the Energy Information Administration. The 2012 average price for Oregon was $3.81.

A handful of western states, including Oregon, have seen gas prices rise in the past week due to refinery issues in California (Calif. +13 cents, Nev. +3 cents, Wash. +1 cent, and Ore. and Ariz. both up fractions of a penny).  Wholesale gasoline prices have moved lower in this region to start this week, following evidence that the impact on production was likely to be limited. 

While retail gas prices have drifted lower in much of the U.S., West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil prices have continued to trade above $100 per barrel on geopolitical tensions in the Middle East and North Africa. Prices have pulled back somewhat from the recent multi-year high of $110.10 on August 28 but remain elevated as the U.S. publically considers action regarding Syria. At the close of Monday’s formal trading on the NYMEX, WTI settled $1.62 lower at $106.59 per barrel.  Today WTI is trading around $105 per barrel compared to $107 a week ago.  Crude prices are down about one percent in the last month.

This week three states have regular unleaded at or above $4 a gallon, up from two last week.  For the 31st consecutive week, there are no states below $3 a gallon.  Hawaii has the most expensive gas in the country for the 48th consecutive week at $4.31, followed by California at $4.03 (up 12 cents and up from fourth last week), Alaska at $4.00, Connecticut at $3.90, and New York at $3.83.  Washington is sixth up from eighth at $3.75 (up a penny).  Idaho is seventh down from sixth last week at $3.75 (down a penny).  Oregon is 10th up from 16th last week at $3.70 (up a penny).   For the 22nd week in a row, South Carolina has the cheapest gas in the nation at $3.19 a gallon (down six cents).

Diesel prices are edging down slightly in many markets and are well below year-ago prices.  The national average slips a penny to $3.94.  Oregon’s diesel average also ticks down a penny to $3.95.  Diesel is at or above $4 a gallon in 14 states (including the District of Columbia), down from 15 last week.  Hawaii is most expensive at $4.89, followed by Alaska at $4.28, California at $4.27 (up three cents), Connecticut at $4.23, and New York at $4.22. Washington is sixth for the third consecutive week at $4.07 (same as last week).  Idaho is eighth up from 11th at $4.04 (up two cents).   Oregon is 23rd for the second week in a row.  A year ago, the national average for diesel was $4.13 and Oregon's was $4.37.