SEATTLE -- As high as gas prices are right now in the Pacific Northwest, brace yourself for worse.
Between international crude oil prices and the Cherry Point refinery fire last week, we'll likely see a big jump in prices in the coming days and weeks. With Monday being the federal President's Day holiday, the increase could begin as soon as Tuesday.
The AAA auto club reports the average price of a gallon of gasoline in Oregon is $3.66. That's up 14 cents in a week, 19 cents in a month, and 32 cents in a year. It's 9 cents higher than the national average.
AAA reports the average price of a gallon of gasoline in Washington is $3.64 gallon. That price is 29 cents higher than on this date a year ago, and it's up 11 cents in the last week alone.
Tim Hamilton is a former service station owner who now runs a trade group of gas dealers called the Automotive United Trades Organization. Monday morning he had 145 emails from other station owners about the latest boost in gas prices, about six cents more than the 15 cent increase from last week.
"Everybody's trying to figure out where it's going to go," he said.
When the wholesale price of gas goes up, dealers are often squeezed as they can't always raise the price at the pump as fast due primarily to local competition, said Hamilton.
The most recent increases are traced to the price of crude oil, with worries over Iran and other global politics that push on international energy markets. But what's not yet factored in is last Friday's fire at BP's Cherry Point Refinery.
"Our big question comes Tuesday," Hamilton said. "Depends on how long it takes the refinery to get back to full production."
A BP spokesman said it's too soon to know just how long the refinery's crude unit will be out of comission. An investigation by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries gets underway Tuesday as well.
The last refinery fire in Washington caused a 25-30 cent increase in the price of gasoline.