Costs of Oil: Higher Gas Prices In The Uintah Basin

Feb 13, 2015

After sinking to their lowest in years, the nation’s gas prices are slowly making their way back up. Utah is still enjoying low prices at the pump. According to the auto club AAA, Utah has the nation’s second lowest average price of gas. It’s $1.92 per gallon. However, prices in Utah’s oil country are much higher.

In January, Uintah and Duchesne county commissioners asked Gov. Gary Herbert for an investigation. According to Uintah County Commissioner Mike McKee, the difference in prices defies the evidence.

Despite being the biggest source of Utah's oil production, residents in the Uintah Basin are seeing higher than average gas prices.

“What we’ve been concerned about, as leaders of Uintah and Duchesne counties, has been this disparity in the price of gasoline in Uintah and Duchesne counties compared to the Wasatch Front,” McKee said. “We recognize that there’s additional transportation costs to get the gasoline from the refineries to the Uintah Basin, but based on information we have that should be about 10 cents a gallon. When we were seeing 40 and 50 cents a gallon, that’s troubling to us.”

While the investigation has been taken up by the state’s Division of Consumer Protection, the problem is not new. This isn’t the first time people in his county have asked for an inquiry into the matter, McKee said.

“This has been an ongoing concern that the people in the Uintah Basin have had even going back to the time when Gov. [Jon] Huntsman was our governor,” he said. “There was a time when we had a similar outcry and it seemed to go down a little bit but then when enough complaints were made it goes back up again. That’s the ongoing concern that the residents in our county have.”

McKee said that he doesn’t believe anything illegal is behind the wide differences in price. The fact that most of Utah’s oil comes from the Uintah Basin makes the issue so much more perplexing.

“Why shouldn’t it be just as competitive in the Uintah Basin as it is in Heber or the Wasatch Front, or pretty much up and down the state?” he said. “Especially, where the majority of the product comes from, is from the Uintah Basin. 76 percent of the oil produced in the state of Utah comes out of the Uintah Basin.”

State authorities have yet to conclude their investigation.