Nevadans will pay more at the pump this summer, as the statewide average price for gasoline on Monday soared to $3 per gallon for the first time in nearly three years.
Gasoline prices in Nevada jumped 8 cents over the past week as oil refineries across the country do some “spring maintenance” by switching from the winter blend of fuel to a costlier summertime mixture, said AAA Nevada spokesman Michael Blasky.
Growing demand, a stronger economy and higher oil prices are also driving up the cost of gasoline to $3 per gallon for the first time in Nevada since September 2015, Blasky said. Crude oil sold for roughly $65 per barrel on Monday, up from an average of $40 a barrel last summer.
Las Vegas Valley gas prices on Monday also hit an average of $3 per gallon, but those aren’t the highest in the Silver State. In Sparks, a gallon of unleaded gas cost $3.19 on average, followed by $3.13 in Reno, according to AAA.
Expect gas prices to soar like the summertime temperatures as vacationers hit the road between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
“It’s likely that Nevadans could be paying more than $3 at the pump for much of summer,” Blasky said in a prepared statement.
“More people are driving for work, taking vacations and spending money on travel,” he said. “That’s a good sign for the economy, but strong demand will drive up gasoline prices.”
The national average price for a gallon of gas was $2.66, an increase of 13 cents over the last month and a jump of 33 cents from a year ago, according to GasBuddy.
Gas prices have increased by more than 15 cents per gallon over the past month in 17 states, said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy.
“Think of the spring surge as a bit of a race. Some states will see their prices rally early and fast-paced, while others lag behind,” DeHaan said. “So no matter if prices near you surged or haven’t, we’re all going to eventually feel a similar rise amongst all states.”
Switching blends leads to higher prices
Motorists often see a “spring surge” in gasoline prices as refineries move from the winter blend to summer mixture that’s more refined, better for the environment and more expensive to produce, according to AAA.
The difference between the seasonal blends revolves around Reid Vapor Pressure, which measures how easily fuel evaporates, AAA officials said. The higher the volatility, the easier it evaporates.
Winter blend fuel requires a higher RVP because the fuel must be able to evaporate at low temperatures so that cold engines can get started and run more smoothly during frigid weather.
The summer mixture has a lower RVP to prevent excessive evaporation during hot days, leading to a decrease in emissions that usually lead to unhealthy smog and ozone levels.
— Art Marroquin