Average gas prices in Montana continue to rise. The statewide average currently sits at $3.42 per gallon, which is a few cents higher than last week. Patrick DeHaan is Head of Petroleum Analysis at GasBuddy and he has the current numbers.

“The national average is up four cents from a week ago, it is now at $3.52 per gallon,” DeHaan said. “Earlier this week, the price of oil touched $95 per barrel on concerns about the Russia and Ukraine crisis. A lot of where we have been in the past one to two months has been influenced by the situation with Russia and Ukraine. That certainly has the broadest potential to keep pushing gas prices up.”

One of the biggest concerns right now is that Russia could curtail oil exports if the U.S. gets involved and issues any sanctions.

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“Russia, the second largest oil producer globally, produces 10% of all oil,” DeHaan said. “The concern is that if Russia retaliates against possible U.S. sanctions, they could curb the flow of oil from their country, which would cause even more imbalance between global supply and demand. That would cause oil prices to skyrocket.”

DeHaan said if Russia makes a full incursion with military action into Ukraine, oil prices could easily jump $30 per barrel depending on the possible outcomes. If that were to happen, he could see Montana gas prices reaching $4.00 per gallon. As gas prices continue to rise, oil companies will continue to produce more oil.

“Oil companies have their own plans to raise production,” DeHaan said. “A U.S. President can’t really force oil companies to raise production faster than they already are. The President is not really responsible for why oil prices are high and there is not much he can do about it to force oil companies to produce more. The President is really powerless in this situation to have any meaningful impact.”

Not only are oil prices up, but the bulk of the nation is starting the multi-month transition to summer gasoline, further adding to the rise at the pump. According to DeHaan, there is very little relief in sight.

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