Gas prices started to decrease after the shock of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but prices are now on the rise again in the Evergreen State.
In Washington, the average of gas recently rose eight cents to $4.77 a gallon, according to AAA.
That put Washington state up to the fourth-highest for gas prices in the nation, following California, Hawaii and Nevada.
When Russia invaded Ukraine, prices at the gas pump rose 17% in just over a week. Crude prices have eased, down more than 20% from their March price but the cost hasn’t seen as much reflection at the pump.
San Juan County had the highest cost of gas with $5.31 a gallon while Asotin County had an average of $4.38 for the lowest, according to AAA.
Thurston County had an average of $4.88, while Pierce County had an average of $4.87 and Grays Harbor County had an average of $4.89.
Lewis County had the second-highest average at $4.93, according to AAA.
In Yelm, gas was at $5.39 a gallon at the Shell station on May 17.
Economists said the quick rise and slow lowering of prices could be attributed to something as simple as corporate greed or collusion but also consumer interest. With drivers shopping more carefully when prices are higher, they tend to go to a couple areas in town and find a lower cost and assume it’s a good deal, not realizing that crude prices are falling.
In 2020, the average cost of a gallon of gas was $2.18. Nationally, it’s at $4.11.
Gas stations make most of their profit when prices fall slowly. When prices rise quickly, station owners make less money or lose money. Stations made more money in 2020 when prices were lower as opposed to 2022. Owners earned 87 cents for every $2.07 gallon of gas sold. In early March, stations were making just 35 cents off each gallon but in recent weeks with the price slowly lowering before this latest jump, they were making 55 cents a gallon.
Gas stations refill their tanks once every three to five days, but when prices rise quickly, they can’t raise their prices immediately because a competing station might still have a few days supply of the older, cheaper price.
Meanwhile, if gas prices drop quickly, they can make a big profit by slowly lowering the cost.