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Experts say don't worry about gasoline impacts in Arizona

Gas station gas shortage
Posted at 4:46 PM, May 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-12 20:41:05-04

PHOENIX — If it feels like every time you pull up to the pump you’re paying more, that’s because you are.

The average cost per gallon in Arizona is currently sitting at $3.14, a price that has continued to steadily increase since this time last year.

“Up about nine cents from a week ago, up six cents from a month ago, and up a whole $1.06 from a year ago,” said Aldo Vazquez of AAA Arizona.

MAP: See lowest gas prices around the Valley

Officials with AAA say it’s common to see prices go up as we head into summer months. Demand spikes as folks hit the interstates for vacations, plus movement stalled by the COVID pandemic, now finally released upon the roadways.

“This summer we anticipate about 93 percent of all travel to be road trips,” said Vazquez.

That demand is causing a natural price increase for Arizona, which receives much of its gas from Texas and California refineries.

Typically, West Coast refineries conduct annual maintenance in the summer. For instance, two Valero plants shut down this month, taking about 70,000 barrels per day out of the market.

“There’s more economic activity going around, there’s more demand for gasoline. When more people want something, the price tends to go up,” said University of Arizona professor, Dr. Derek Lemoine.

A recent ransomware attack shut down The Colonial Pipeline, with large swaths of the South and the East Coast left feeling the squeeze.

Though the incident led to panic buying in a number of states, experts like Dr. Lemoine say it will be short-lived. Officials on Wednesday afternoon announced the pipeline is now back up and running.

“In their neck of the woods, there are more localized inventories that don’t need to come from the pipeline, and then the other end of that is we can start trucking it. There are things you can do,” explained Dr. Lemoine.

Images of those lined up at empty gas stations has sparked some concern in our state, but so far the feelings are unfounded in fact, with Arizona poised with a robust supply.

And when you look at it through this lens, the picture isn’t so bad -- AAA says gas was $3.12 a gallon in May 2019, just two cents lower than it is now.