Gasoline in Tulsa jumps to $3.60 per gallon
BY ROD WALTON World Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
2/20/13 at 8:26 AM
Gasoline prices are rising earlier than normal this year, but at least one industry analyst predicts they'll also peak well ahead of the usual time.
QuikTrip stations in Tulsa raised the price of regular unleaded 10 cents to $3.59 per gallon late Monday. The move is the chain's second double-digit increase in a week and drives the overall Tulsa retail average to more than $3.60.
The last time Tulsa's price averaged higher was Sept. 29 when it hit $3.61 per gallon, according to AAA-Oklahoma.
"This is not really the time of year you expect this kind of thing to happen," AAA-Oklahoma spokesman Chuck Mai said. "Not to this degree and this level of quickness."
Gasoline prices typically rise in the late winter and early spring as refineries perform maintenance turnarounds and prepare for producing summer blends. However, the local pump price has jumped more than 75 cents per gallon since the beginning of the year.
Analysts and other observers blame it on good economic news internationally, or least lack of bad news. The refinery turnaround season also is pushing the upside, Oil Price Information Service's Tom Kloza said.
"We've seen this movie before," he wrote in an emailed response to questions from the Tulsa World. "Physical and paper traders buy ahead of first-quarter refining maintenance and the switch to summer blends."
Benchmark crude oil for March delivery rose 80 cents Tuesday to finish at $96.66 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported last week that total U.S. liquid fuels consumption dropped more than 2 million barrels per day from 2005 to 2012. The EIA predicted that oil consumption domestically will average 18.65 million barrels per day in 2013, down from the 18.71 million average estimated for last year.
Even so, regional whole gasoline has risen 68 cents per gallon since late December.
"Wholesale gasoline and gasoline futures are being priced for every conceivable imperfection on the supply side, and perfection (no destruction) on the demand side," Kloza said. "We will overreact to the upside as we do every year."
Kloza predicted that the upward thrust won't last. In fact, he estimated that U.S. prices may peak between $3.80 and $4.10 per gallon in late March or early April.
"What you pay on St. Patrick's Day will be more than what you pay on Memorial Day or July Fourth," Kloza said.
AAA's Fuel Gauge Report estimated Tulsa's average at $3.552 based on prices taken Monday from numerous stations, but that was before QuikTrip and others raised the pump price. The AAA average is calculated each week by the automobile travel organization.
The Oklahoma City average was $3.601 per gallon.
Tulsa gasoline price
Dollars per gallon
Previous day: $3.55**
Month ago: $2.93**
Six months ago: $3.58**
Year ago: $3.26**
Record high: $3.93 (July 18, 2008)
*Common observed price for regular unleaded.
**AAA Tulsa average
Sources: AAA-Oklahoma, Tulsa World staff.
Original Print Headline: Tulsa gasoline jumps to $3.60 per gallon
Rod Walton 918-581-8457