With national gas price surge predicted, could cost hit $5 per gallon in Roaring Fork Valley? | AspenTimes.com

With national gas price surge predicted, could cost hit $5 per gallon in Roaring Fork Valley?

A local fills up his gas tank at the Woody Creek Station gas pump midvalley on Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

A leading analyst of gasoline trends forecasts surges this spring that could drive the national average over $4 per gallon, which means significantly higher prices at the pump in the Roaring Fork Valley.

GasBuddy, which bills itself as the leading fuel savings platform in North America, said there could be even sharper increases in prices in 2022 than there were last year.

“A national average of $4 per gallon is possible this spring, largely due to pandemic recovery and rising demand before relief, or additional oil supply, arrives later in 2022,” the firm said a recent news released.

The firm’s 2022 Fuel Price Outlook said the peak national average for a gallon of regular unleaded would be about $4.13 per gallon in June. “After a hot start to the summer, prices should begin to decline, falling back to potentially just under $3 per gallon by the holiday season.”

The Colorado average was $3.26 per gallon of regular unleaded as of Jan. 3, GasBuddy said, while the national average was at $3.27. Roaring Fork Valley residents are resigned to paying more at the pumps.

The best prices in the Roaring Fork Valley are 27 cents more per gallon than the state average, according to the GasBuddy database. Prices are lowest in Glenwood Springs at $3.53 per gallon for regular unleaded. In Carbondale, the lowest prices range from $3.69 to $3.74 per gallon.

Gas prices at the Conoco at Aspen Business Center are just under $5 on Thursday, Jan. 6, 2022. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

In Basalt, prices ranged from $3.79 per gallon at the Basalt General Store Exxon Station to $3.84 at the Willits General Store Conoco to $3.94 at 7-Eleven. The Old Snowmass Conoco was at $3.79, according to GasBuddy. The Sinclair station at the Woody Creek Station was charging $3.77.

In the upper valley consumers are paying well over $4 per gallon already. The price Thursday at the Airport Business Center Conoco was $4.48 per gallon of regular unleaded. The Exxon station at the Locals’ Corner in Aspen was charging $4.59. The highest price was $4.69 at the Snowmass Resort Conoco.

Local gas station operators have historically cited higher transportation costs and higher prices of doing business in the upper Roaring Fork Valley for their higher prices.

Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, said it’s also a case of operators in small, affluent markets charging what they can.

“Tourists in these areas have deep pockets, as do many residents who live in these areas,” DeHaan responded to The Aspen Times in an email. “Stations know this, and don’t price their fuel as competitively as a larger town with more stations.”

He said he wasn’t familiar with the Aspen-area market, but given the higher prices currently, $5 cannot be ruled out during the expected surge later this year.

“It’s tough to accurately predict a handful of high-priced stations in tourist areas because the stations are quite unpredictable when it comes to prices,” he wrote.

Though it’s no consolation, GasBuddy’s 2022 Fuel Price Outlook also forecast that some California cities, such as San Francisco and Sacramento, could see gas prices top $5 per gallon.



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