Gas prices higher than last year in Wyoming, parts of Colorado

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Nationwide gasoline prices today advanced for a 20th consecutive day to $3.43 gal for regular unleaded, yielding an average savings of 31 cents/gal compared to the same date in 2013.

But not every state finds pump prices lower than in late February last year. Some pockets in the Rocky Mountain states are glaring exceptions, and within that geography, Wyoming is an expensive standout. Only 26 counties in the U.S. have an average gas price above where it was on this day last year, and 17 of those counties are in Wyoming.

Outside of that state, there are five counties in Colorado (Lake, Rio Blanco and Routt); one in Montana (Madison); and a single Utah county (Daggett) that find current prices above year-ago levels.

Within the larger geography of the U.S., every single February day in 2014 has delivered a national average below year ago levels, with the average year-on-year savings at 28 cents/gal, according to GasBuddy.

But only five of Wyoming’s 23 counties are presently quoting a price below values seen one year ago. Motorists in Uinta, Lincoln, Big Horn, Washakie, and Fremont find gas prices about 3 cents/gal beneath February 25 numbers.

Interestingly, some of the cheapest prices in the U.S. also show up in the region, with Montana regularly ranking as the single least expensive state in which to buy gasoline in 2014. GasBuddy analysts attribute the inexpensive regional trend to high gasoline production in that state, which benefits from access to some of the cheapest crude on the planet – – the heavy sour crude from Canadian oil sands. Last winter also found relatively cheap prices for gasoline in northern tier states. The difference in 2014, which may be manifesting itself in recent weeks, comes via tighter inventories. Stocks of gasoline in the Rockies are about 15.8-million gal lower than they were one year ago, representing a small deficit that should not be a major concern in the region.

The rest of the country finds gasoline inventories that are about 7-million gallons above 2013 levels.