Gasoline prices in El Paso have climbed more in the past month than anywhere else in the U.S. after the average price of a gallon of gas here hit $3.80 on Friday – an increase of over 50 cents per gallon since late June, according to the gas price-tracking site GasBuddy.
And in just the last week, the average price of gasoline in El Paso jumped by 37 cents per gallon, according to the AAA auto club. Gas prices in the Borderland have typically been cheaper than the national average over the last year, until the recent surge pushed prices here beyond the U.S. average gas price of $3.69.
Across Texas, the statewide price for a gallon of gasoline averaged $3.40 on Friday. In the last month, gas prices in Texas have risen by about 23 cents on average.
The price of oil swelled in July after Saudi Arabia and Russia chose to cut oil production to reduce supply on the market and keep energy prices from falling. Saudi Arabia and Russia are the two biggest oil producers among the OPEC+ production cartel that’s made up of 23 oil-exporting nations.
The price for a barrel of West Texas Intermediate crude oil – a specific grade of crude oil that’s the North American benchmark price – hovered around $98 this time last year before falling over winter. A barrel of WTI crude traded at $80.18 on Friday morning, a 15% increase from a month ago and the highest price for West Texas crude since April.
Meanwhile, U.S. stocks of gasoline today are 3% lower than a year ago and slightly below the five-year average, indicating a lower-than-normal inventory of gas available. And the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve contained almost 347 million barrels of oil in storage, 27% lower than this time last year after President Joe Biden last summer opted to sell a chunk of U.S. oil reserves to boost supply and lower prices for drivers at the pump.
But the lower supplies of gasoline on hand and the end of oil releases from the nation’s reserves – on top of supply cuts elsewhere – have helped boost gas prices in El Paso to about the same level as a year ago. The price for a gallon of gas peaked at almost $4.92 in June 2022 amid a surge in inflation.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, El Paso hadn’t seen average gas prices top $3.25 since around 2014.
Analysts at the Austin-based energy analytics firm Enverus last month said they expect a barrel of Brent crude – another grade of crude oil similar to WTI but serves as the European benchmark – to hit $100 in the fourth quarter of this year as record-high global oil demand and insufficient supply growth combine to boost oil prices. A barrel of Brent Crude traded at $83.84 on Friday morning.
Gasoline prices could stay elevated for some time as a result, according to Patrick DeHaan, the head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy.
“With Saudi Arabia continuing to tighten production, and with U.S. (petroleum reserve) releases behind us, there could be a continued tightness in markets, pushing oil prices even higher,” DeHaan wrote earlier this week.
Seattle, Washington was the most expensive U.S. city to buy gasoline in on Friday, where a gallon of regular fuel cost over $5.03. West Memphis, Arkansas had the cheapest gasoline prices in the nation, at $3.05 per gallon.