Fairbanks expects soaring gas prices ahead of holiday weekend

Published: Jun. 30, 2021 at 4:49 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - In the last week, Alaska has seen a rise in gas prices, which is expected to continue into the holiday weekend.

This is due to soaring demand, according to Patrick De Haan, Head of Petroleum Analysis with Gas Buddy. “A Gas Buddy survey about travel this summer indicated that nearly two-thirds of Americans are planning to hit the roads this summer. That’s up from 31% last year, so big increase in the amount of Americans hitting the road.”

This demand puts current prices in Alaska at an average of $3.47 a gallon. “Prices in Fairbanks right around the mid-three dollar a gallon mark. You can find a bit lower than that if you shop around, but all of this has to do with demand increasing, outpacing the increase in production in this post-COVID world,” De Haan said.

And the ongoing heat wave in the Pacific Northwest is limiting gasoline production there. De Haan explained, “Tremendous heat in Washington State and Oregon is actually causing refineries to have to slow down operations. Just like refineries in Texas were not ready for this winter’s cold weather, it affected refineries that had to shut down, the extreme heat is not something that is usually witnessed in Washington, and heat exchangers and other equipment is not as common in northern climates. So that is resulting, with very high temperatures... refineries have to slow down operations because of this which is limiting how much gasoline they can produce.”

According to De Haan, this development could raise gas prices in Alaska. “Expect prices to go up as a result of some of that high heat affecting refineries in Washington state.”

Meanwhile, a shortage in truck drivers is causing occasional gas stations in the lower-48 to run out of fuel. “The problem is getting it the last five to 50 miles from a local terminal to the local station, and that’s where the truck driver shortage is leading to very short-lived, sporadic, random outages; but this is not a problem most Americans will encounter.”

De Haan emphasizes that these outages don’t indicate a gas shortage.

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