NewsCovering Colorado


Experts predict relief, stabilizing gas prices in Colorado in upcoming weeks

Gas Prices
Posted at 8:55 PM, Mar 06, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-06 23:12:59-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — If you’ve have noticed a slight relief at the gas pump, you're not alone. Experts tell News5, signs of more relief are also on the way.

Since the end of Febuary, AAA says the statewide average for a gallon of gas in Colorado has dropped almost 10 cents. That's tied for the biggest drop in the nation. However, Coloradans are paying some of the highest rates in the nation.

Meanwhile, the only oil and gas refinery in Colorado is planning to reopen by the end of the month. On Friday, the Suncor Refinery in Commerce City announced its plans to restart two of its plants. As we’ve reported in January, the refinery provides 35% to 40% of all gasoline and diesel in Colorado. However, the refinery was shutdown in December because of equipment damage.

Because of the refinery going back online, experts with GasBuddy and AAA expect prices to drop 20 to 40 cents in the upcoming weeks.

“We’re well served by that refinery, and it's one reasons why Colorado gas prices tend to be lower than the national average. So in the long term, the outlook is probably pretty good,” said Skyler McKinley with AAA.

McKinley also says the refinery coming back online will help stabilize gas prices.

“They won't necessarily drive them down with the same force that they were driven upward by the shutdown, and that's because there are domestic and global pressures that will be bringing the price upward,” said McKinley, who’s the regional director of public affairs at AAA.

Factors to take into consideration this time of year are increased demand for travel like spring break, which increases prices. Plus, switching over to summer blend gas is more expensive.

News5 also spoke to Patrick De Haan, the head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy. He said the refinery is also going back online a couple weeks earlier than expected. However, while gas prices typically go up every spring, he added, “because this refinery is so critical to Colorado's fuel supply, and because of how high prices have gone in the absence of this refinery being online, there likely will be some price relief. But it may not come overnight.”

De Haan also said prices of gas in Colorado have decreased six cents in the past week, which is the biggest decline of any state. He expected prices drop to $3.70 or 3.60 in the weeks ahead, despite the seasonal changes.

“It’s the tug of war so to speak. The tug of war is being won by the fact that this provider is going to be getting back online. It's going to outdo the seasonality,” said De Haan.

Overall, they both say Coloradans can have some relief knowing prices won't skyrocket again.

“There's going to be more stability in 2023 when it comes to gas prices. That means, it probably won't be the historically expensive year that 2022 was, but it will still be abnormally expensive,” said McKinley.

McKliney also said, when the Suncor refinery is operating at full capacity, expect Colorado gas prices to drop down slightly below the national average. He added, we will not see prices similar to before the shutdown, until September or October at the earliest.

For drivers like Ryan Breakey, it'll make a big difference.

“The relief would definitely be great for the drivers, Ubers and Lyft and delivery drivers, and everybody in general,” said Breakey, a part-time Uber and Lyft driver.

Breakey has been a driver for the third-party delivery services for seven years. He said he’s been impacted by the gas prices, paying more than $10 every fill, compared to what he’s used to.

“It’s definitely been difficult. You definitely see it when you fill up, especially for us drivers, when we typically fill up once a day,” said Breakey.

He also added, the gas prices have impacted all drivers, but especially those who drive for a living.

“They're definitely feeling the extra pinch at the gas station, and I know personally a lot of full-time drivers who have stopped,” said Breakey.

AAA data shows Colorado has the fifth highest average gas prices in the United States. Colorado trails California, Hawaii, Nevada and Washington, where customers all pay over $4 for a gallon of gas. Each of the most expensive states pay well above the national average of $3.40 a gallon.

More goes into the expected savings with the reopening of the Suncor refinery, and that's because four primary factors impact what we pay for a gallon of gasoline. It’s made up of crude oil, refining, distribution and taxes, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

As of January, they say the price of crude oil makes up over half of what we pay for at the pump. Refining makes up the second largest portion, accounting for 20%. That means we will see some decrease in price with the reopening of Suncor. But the primary factor impacting our gas prices is the cost of crude oil. The American Petroleum Institute says other factors go into prices including, local competition and contracts with suppliers.


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