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Expert: Gas prices going up, way up

Supply problems blamed on refinery shutdowns

Portland area gas prices are predicted to rise 10 to 35 cents by the end of the Memorial Day weekend - and not because dealers are gouging customers during the holiday.

According to Patrick DeHaan, Senior Petroleum Analyst for GasBuddy.com, prices are going up throughout the entire West Coast because of supply shortages caused by refinery shutdowns. The most significant problem is the ongoing closure of BP's Cherry Point refinery in Blaine, Wash., because of an earlier fire.

'Supplies are tight in the entire West Coast - 17 percent below this time last year,' says DeHaan.

The situation is the opposite of the rest of the country, where gas prices are dropping.

'Prices are down 7 cents a gallon in the Midwest, 7 cents a gallon in the Gulf, down everywhere else, in fact,' says DeHaan.

Gas prices on the West Coast have already risen around 20 cents a gallon in recent weeks while they have fallen in the rest of the county because of the supply problems.

DeHaan says a weekly industry report highlighted the tight supplies on the West Coast on Wednesday, spurring the most recent price increases.

"I expect the situation to slowly resolve itself over the next few weeks, but as gasoline prices tend to fall slowly, motorists may not have a sense of real relief until late-June or July," DeHaan says.

GasBuddy operates PortlandGasPrices.com and over 250 similar websites that track gasoline prices at over 140,000 gasoline stations in the United States and Canada. In addition, GasBuddy offers a free smartphone app which has been downloaded over 20 million times to help motorists find gasoline prices in their area.