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Geopolitical tensions, inflation, and the COVID-19 pandemic have converged to push the average U.S. price for a gallon of gasoline above $4 for the first time since 2008, as calculated by the price-monitoring app GasBuddy.
In some cities, including Los Angeles and San Francisco, average gas prices have hit $5 for regular fuel—the photo above was taken in Santa Ana, California, on March 6—and there are even some stations selling premium for over $7 a gallon. On the AAA Gas Prices website, you can look at the averages in the state where you live.
Unless something drastic changes soon, GasBuddy is predicting a national average price of $4.25 by Memorial Day. The current record is $4.10.
UPDATE 3/8/2022: AAA said the average U.S. price for a gallon of gasoline has hit $4.173, which is the most expensive ever. That's up 10 cents per gallon since yesterday and up 63 cents since February 24 (the date on which Russia began its invasion of Ukraine).
The news everybody already seems to know is that gas prices are headed up. This weekend, the national average price for a gallon of gasoline went above $4 a gallon in the U.S for only the second time ever. The last time this happened was in 2008.
In some parts of the country, $4 would be a substantial discount. Los Angeles County, for example, saw an average of $5 a gallon this week, the first time that milestone was ever reached. At some stations in Los Angeles, premium fuel was selling for $7.25 a gallon this week. Gas in the Philadelphia area hit $4.05 a gallon late last week, an increase of 43 cents in the past month. Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy, said on Twitter that San Francisco also hit $5 a gallon and told USA Today that more cities are likely to hit that height in the coming weeks.
The Los Angeles CBS affiliate, CBSLA, noted that inflation has played a role in the recent price increase for gas (along with the COVID-19 pandemic), but De Haan posted on Twitter late Saturday that there was only one reason gas prices here have hit the $4-a-gallon level. "To make it implicitly clear, this is the cost of bipartisan sanctions on Russia for their war on Ukraine," he wrote. "[$4/gallon] was unlikely to have happened without Russian action."
In his State of the Union speech this week, President Biden warned the country that the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian military would have an effect on every American. In response to Russia’s actions, Biden announced that the U.S. and 30 other countries were working together to release 60 million barrels of oil from strategic reserves around the world. Thirty million of those barrels will come from America's own Strategic Petroleum Reserve, Biden said, saying the action "will help blunt gas prices here at home."
Meanwhile, AAA, which uses its own methodology to determine average gas prices, calculated that the average on Saturday was $3.922. AAA’s highest ever recorded national price record for a gallon of gasoline was $4.114, which was set on July 17, 2008. That’s also the date GasBuddy recorded its highest-ever price record: $4.103.
GasBuddy released a statement about this weekend's milestone saying that, while international sanctions that are crippling Russia's crude oil exports are one cause of the price spike, that's not the only reason GasBuddy expects fuel prices to continue to rise.
"Seasonal factors including increased demand for gas, refinery maintenance and the switch to summer blend gas, on top of current geopolitical tensions, could propel prices upward of $4.25 per gallon by Memorial Day," the group wrote in a statement. On the bright side, the company's 2022 Fuel Outlook predicts prices will start to slope downward after that, with a national average all the way down to $3.78 by December 2022. That number used to seem high, but it's all relative.
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