Alaska oil woes likely to affect Tahoe gas prices | SierraSun.com

Alaska oil woes likely to affect Tahoe gas prices

Amanda Fehd
Sun News Service

Renee Shadforth/Sierra SunGas prices at Chevron in Truckee hovered at $3.29 for regular unleaded on Monday.

The towns among those with the most expensive gas in the country may have to pay even more per gallon after energy giant BP decided Monday to shut down a pipeline that supplies 20 percent of California’s crude oil.

In Truckee, on the North Shore and in South Lake Tahoe, gas prices hovered around $3.29 for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline, 10 cents above the state average and 26 cents above the national average of $3.03.

Oil industry watchers took a cautious stance Monday, saying it’s difficult to gauge the consequences of the move without knowing how long the Prudoe Bay pipeline will be closed.

“The important thing is we have a robust supply of crude oil in the short term,” said AAA’s California spokesman Sean Comey. The automobile association tracks gas prices as a service to its customers. “The (California) refineries are saying we have enough crude oil right now, it just depends on how long it stakes to fix the problem.”

Alaskan oil makes up 20 percent of California’s supply, and 8 percent of nationwide supply.

Prices jumped $2 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange on Monday.

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Comey said several factors are contributing to a nationwide situation where supply is barely keeping pace with demand, including unrest in the Middle East.

“The system has to be operating at nearly full capacity to keep pace with this high of demand. (The pipeline shutting down) underscores how precarious the situation is in regard to supply,” he said.

– Every $1 per barrel rise in crude oil prices results in 2.5 cents per gallon more at the pump

– California receives 20 percent of its supply from Alaska

– Nationwide, Alaska contributes 8 percent to total supply