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'Once it drops, it'll drop significantly': Experts discuss gas prices in Arizona

Experts weigh in on why Phoenix is seeing the highest gas prices across the nation.

PHOENIX — For weeks Arizonans have felt the pain at the pump, however, there's good news. Experts say relief could soon be on the way.

"I would say by July 4th the Arizona state average should be back under $4.00 a gallon if everything goes well," said Patrick De Haan. "Phoenix will probably be a little bit higher, maybe $4.25 a gallon, but that could represent a $0.70 a               gallon drop from where we are today."

Patrick De Haan is the head of petroleum analysis at Gas Buddy. He says Arizona's gas prices dropped about $0.02 last week but that they should keep falling.

"It's going to be a slow-moving freight train," he said. "Once it drops, it'll drop significantly."

According to AAA, Arizona continues to lead the nation with the most expensive gas. Areas around town are even higher than what some Californians are currently paying. Many drivers are wondering why Arizona's gas prices are so high.

"The simple reason behind it is Arizona regulations are more stringent," De Haan said. 

"There are no refineries in Arizona itself, all the gas lines to meet demand have to come in from outside areas. Arizona's summer gasoline requirements now supersede the EPA and when you create a special blend of fuel for your state it may keep the air cleaner but that also means the refineries that produce that fuel have to have a different blend just for Arizona and that fragmentation is what disrupts the market when things aren't working 100% normally and that's the case here."

De Haan also said Arizona's population boom over the past several years has caused prices to surge because while pipelines coming from California and Texas are full of product, he said those refineries don't currently have the infrastructure that meets the new demand.

To top it off, the refineries serving Phoenix and Eastern Arizona are also undergoing maintenance and with the state's specific gas regulations, that also raises the cost.

"These are highly complex facilities they can take days getting back up to speed and once they do, the decrease should gain momentum," he said.

Which is why De Haan says it's downhill from here. At least for now.

"This is probably going to be the worst of the year for gas prices, so we're kind of through it," he said. "But this could be a consistent problem year in and year out because there's not enough pipeline capacity right now."

Also in terms of areas outside of Phoenix having cheaper gas, De Haan said "Not all of Arizona has that same clean-burning gasoline that's required in Phoenix which is why if you get outside of that geographic area, you get prices that are $1.00/gallon lower."

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