Demand for gasoline is up and that typically means higher prices at the pump. Patrick DeHaan is the head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy and he provided KGVO with the current numbers here in Missoula and Montana.

“Average gas prices in Missoula are up about seven cents a gallon in the last week,” DeHaan said. “They stand at an average of $2.16, which is still quite a bit lower than last year when prices were averaging $2.79. Across the state, Montana’s average is about $2.13 per gallon, up from $2.07 a week ago, which is slightly under the national average. The national average stands at $2.14.”

DeHaan said U.S. gasoline demand rose another 3% last week, making it the eighth straight week that demand has gone up.

“We will have to keep on eye out to see if any states are going to issue stay in place orders,” DeHaan said. “That certainly could limit demand moving forward. With those states seeing a rise in COVID-19 cases, it remains questionable if U.S. demand will go down in the weeks ahead.”

During a normal summer season, DeHaan said gas prices usually peak right around Memorial Day and tend to inch lower through the remainder of the summer.

“This summer, it is quite the opposite,” DeHaan said. “I think our lowest point would be right at the beginning of summer. As we continue to recover over the course of the summer, prices will go up. Prices for the summer will likely be lowest on Memorial Day and highest on Labor Day.”

Across the country, 30 states saw an average increase of only a penny or two, as drivers struck a difficult balance between the desire to travel and the need to exercise caution due to the COVID-19 pandemic.