There's at least one gas station in Missoula whose prices are not displayed due to the fact that prices are rising rapidly, day to day.

Patrick DeHaan, petroleum analyst for Gas Buddy, said there are a number of factors in play that are combining to raise gas prices dramatically.

“Prices have been going up across much of the country and Missoula is no exception,” said DeHaan. “The average price is up five and a half cents per gallon, and in Missoula in the last week the average is now about $2.40, but buckle up, because the national average was up some 11 cents a gallon in the last week, which was its sharpest weekly rise since Hurricane Harvey in 2017. However, with Missoula lagging behind, it's likely that prices could rise another five to 10 cents a gallon this week.”

DeHaan said the severe cold snap in Texas has merely exacerbated the issue.

“It has certainly been enhanced by the actions of the cold weather last week resulting in the shutdown of about 20% of the nation's refining capacity in Texas due to that extreme cold,” he said. “But in the background, rising demand and recovery from COVID continues to also boost prices.”

DeHaan said as spring and summer approach, expect gas prices to continue to rise.

“Moving forward, this week, probably there will be another five to 10 cent increase as Missoula catches up to the increased scenario that was seen nationwide,” he said. “But then even after the cold weather has moved on, and refiners get back online, we're still contending with tightness in oil production and refineries that will likely soon start transitioning to more expensive summer gasoline.”

DeHaan said the new Biden administration’s policies will eventually affect the prices of oil and gas, but it may take two or more years.

“So far, the answer is that the policy shifts, such as the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline and no longer allowing permits on federal land have not yet impacted prices. That is something that will have an impact potentially in the next year to two and moving beyond.”

The price of regular unleaded at Costco on Saturday was $2.36 a gallon.


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