Gas prices in Montana have continued to drop a little lower over the past few weeks, but the national average is on the rise. Patrick DeHaan is the head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy and he gave KGVO the current numbers.

“Nationally, prices are up about three cents per gallon in the past week,” DeHaan said. “In Missoula, prices are down six tenths of a penny in the last week and the statewide average is down about half a penny. Prices in Missoula now average $1.70 and the statewide average is $1.72. Prices in Missoula are kind of bucking the overall trend that we are seeing across most of the country with prices going up.”

The national average has gone up three weeks in a row and DeHaan said that probably won’t change anytime soon.

“Oil prices are back above $30 per barrel and I think that will lead to an overall trend,” DeHaan said. “For the majority of the summer, prices should continue to trend higher. Normally, prices for the year peak in May and June, but I think this year, due to depressed demand we have been seeing the past two months, demand will rebound over the course of the summer and that will lead prices up continuously through labor day.”

DeHaan said gasoline inventories have declined rather notably for three straight weeks as well.

“Refineries are simply processing less crude oil in light of the lower demand,” DeHaan said. “As a result of OPEC and the U.S. production cut that we have seen because of low oil prices, U.S. oil inventories have actually started to go down as well. This is quite a turn of events from dealing with oil inventories that were nearly full. U.S. consumers have really rebounded and demand for gasoline is up and that has led to declining inventories now.”

DeHaan said Montana is always a few weeks behind the national trend and he expects the statewide average to go up in the next week or so.