Mother Nature is mainly responsible for giving the Valley the lowest gasoline prices in the nation — at least temporarily.
With torrential rains and flooding disrupting refineries and fuel distribution systems in other parts of the United States, Arizona has benefited from the fact that adverse weather has not affected refineries that supply the Valley, according to AAA Arizona, which tracks gasoline prices nationwide.
“We get over 60 percent of our gasoline from California and those refineries haven’t been hit with the same weather woes,” said Linda Gorman, spokeswoman for AAA Arizona.
The situation could change in a hurry if a future hurricane slams into the Gulf coast, she said.
According to a report released Sunday by The Lundberg Survey, the average price of a gallon of regular self-serve gasoline in the Phoenix area was $2.51, which compared with the national average of $2.75. That made Phoenix the lowest in the nation, according to the California-based poll.
The results of a AAA survey last week were slightly different, showing lower prices in parts of South Carolina, Alabama and Tennessee. But Gorman said Valley prices are unusually low for this time of year.
Normally in the summer the Valley has higher prices than the national average because of a special summer blend dispensed from Valley pumps.
The blend, which is cleaner burning and designed to reduce air pollution during the hot season, is produced at relatively few refineries and therefore tends to be more expensive, Gorman said.
But the weather situation this summer has upset the normal pattern, she said.
“This has been a season of incidents at refineries,” she said. “There was flooding in July in the Midwest that had an impact in that area. There was flooding at a refinery in Kansas and a fire at a refinery in Mississippi.”
When the Valley uses a cheaper standard blend of gasoline, the retail price should continue to drop through the end of the year, Gorman said.