GAO-01-433R Oregon Gasoline Prices
United States General Accounting Office
February 23, 2001
The Honorable Gordon H. Smith
United States Senate
Gasoline Prices in Oregon
Dear Senator Smith:
As requested, we are providing information on (1) factors affecting retail gasoline
prices in Oregon, including transportation costs, taxes, costs of full service, and other
supply and demand conditions, and (2) how gasoline price trends in Portland,
Oregon, compare with trends in other West Coast cities.
This letter supplements the
information contained in our letter to you of February 23, 2000,
and summarizes the
material presented in our briefing to your staff on January 25, 2001.
As you know, Oregon’s gasoline prices, along with those of California and
Washington State, are currently among the highest in the United States.
to rising crude oil costs in 1999, gasoline prices rose nationwide and have remained
relatively high compared with prices in the preceding 5 years.
Washington and California prices remained above the national average, due in part to
higher gasoline taxes, special fuel restrictions (in California), and a generally tight
supply-and-demand balance in the region.
According to the American Automobile
Association’s daily gasoline price survey for February 14, 2001, the average price for
regular unleaded gasoline in Oregon is about $1.54 per gallon, compared with $1.66 in
California, $1.54 in Washington, and a national average of $1.49.
These state averages
mask a great deal of price variation within states and average prices for particular
cities will typically be substantially higher or lower than state average prices.
Factors Affecting Gasoline Prices in Oregon
Among the factors affecting gasoline prices in Oregon are higher-than-average costs
associated with transporting gasoline from refiners to consumers, higher-than-
average state gasoline taxes, and a prohibition on self-service gasoline stations.
Motor Fuels: Gasoline Price Spikes in Oregon in 1999
(GAO/RCED-00-100R, Feb. 23, 2000).
For example, in the same survey, out of 15 cities in California, Oregon, and Washington, the average
retail price of unleaded regular gasoline varied from a low of about $1.43 per gallon in Spokane,
Washington, to a high of $1.84 in San Francisco, California.
Source: American Automobile Association,
Daily Fuel Gauge Report
(Feb. 14, 2001).