Vance Feast, a farmer who uses propane to heat water on his property, said this year’s price hike was higher than he expected.
“I don’t have the money to pay $400 to fill up a tank,” he said. “Maybe (propane companies) should have signs out front advertising the prices, like the gas stations do.”
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, propane prices in Colorado were at about $2.12 per gallon on Dec. 19. That’s higher than last winter’s prices, which never reached $2, but not as high as the spiking prices that hit the state in 2014, which soared to $3.50 because of a propane shortage. Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com, said he expects propane prices to rise soon as a result of the global oil situation, but he couldn’t give a specific prediction.
In the past month, gasoline prices have risen an average of 15 cents across the state, Patrick DeHaan, the senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com, said in a telephone interview. The Cortez area experienced similar price hikes, raising the cost of gas above the Colorado average. Prices are expected to continue rising as 2017 begins.
On Tuesday, gasoline prices in Cortez were between $2.21 and $2.35 per gallon. In Dolores they were a bit higher, ranging from $2.27 to $2.39, while the Cox Conoco station in Mancos was listing prices at $2.24 per gallon. In comparison, the statewide average for that day was about $2.15 per gallon, and the national average was $2.29.
DeHaan told The Journal that a cold winter in the northeastern U.S., where the majority of people rely on petroleum for heat, could have a “minor impact” on heavy oil products, like diesel. But the nationwide rise in regular gas prices is mainly due to a Nov. 30 decision by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to cap oil production, starting Jan. 1, in order to drive up declining oil prices. The price of crude oil has been rising all month in anticipation of the production cuts.
“For the last two years, supply has usually outpaced demand,” DeHaan said. “OPEC’s decision was basically to balance the market.”
The Cortez city budget also was affected by low oil prices in 2016, which meant lower tax revenue from oil and gas companies in the area. But according to city manager Shane Hale, an increase in tourism revenue helped to offset the decline.
In Colorado, gas currently costs about 20 cents more than it did last year, and DeHaan predicted it will rise another 20 to 25 cents in 2017. He estimated motorists in the state will spend about $120 more on gas next year. But in the near future, he expects prices to rise during the next week, as gas prices catch up to the increased price of oil, then taper off for some time.
Julianne Liska, manager of the Giant gas station in Cortez, said her store’s prices rose about 10 cents the week before Christmas. The town’s other gas stations, like Maverik and City Market, were also affected.