U.S. gas prices surge to all-time high as oil costs soar

American drivers are now paying the most they’ve ever doled out for gasoline, with the national average reaching an all-time record of $4.17 per gallon, according to AAA. 

The record comes after the average price for gasoline topped $4 a gallon last week, with prices continuing to surge amid Russia’s war on Ukraine. The previous all-time high for U.S. gas prices was $4.10 in July 2008, according to Bloomberg. 

Drivers in California are facing the highest costs, with the average price per gallon at $5.44. In Mono County in California, the typical cost of gas has jumped above $6, with the average price at the pump now at $6.02, AAA said. 

Other states with higher-than-average gas prices include:

  • Hawaii, $4.72 per gallon
  • Nevada, $4.67
  • Oregon, $4.59
  • Washington state, $4.55
  • Illinois, $4.43
  • New York $4.37
  • Connecticut, $4.36

Why is gas so expensive?

Oil prices have surged over supply concerns amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, with U.S. sanctions targeting Russia’s oil-refinery sector. 

“The military conflict between Russia and Ukraine has driven up crude oil prices over the last seven days by over 30%,” analysts with investment bank UBS said in a report. “This is the second-largest one-week increase in crude oil over the last 30 years, driven by fears of a potential embargo of Russian oil supplies, which would have wide-ranging implications for oil producers, consumers and markets.”

Meanwhile, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Sunday the Biden administration is in “very active discussions” about barring Russian oil imports in the U.S., while a bipartisan group of senators has also called for a ban. That’s causing the price of oil to surge amid concerns about supply issues, particularly to Europe. 

Russia is a major exporter of crude oil, accounting for about 12% of the world’s supply. Any disruption to those exports is likely to drive prices at the pump higher for consumers almost everywhere, experts said. 

Yet the U.S. is far less dependent on Russian oil than Europe. Last year, about 8% of U.S. oil imports came from Russia, while as of January almost no Russian oil came into the U.S, according to Troy Vincent, senior market analyst at DTN, a commodities research firm. 

When will gas prices go down?

It’s possible that the price of gas could decline later in the year, according to David Kelly, chief global strategist at JPMorgan Funds in a Monday research note. That would depend on greater U.S. shale oil production and greater output from OPEC members, among other developments, he noted. 

And rising gas prices could dampen consumer demand for gasoline, such as if they cut back driving or opt for electric vehicles. 

“Because of all of this, it is quite possible that oil prices will spike in the short run but then fade in the months ahead,” Kelly noted. 

In the meantime, U.S. households are likely to feel the hit to their wallets. The average U.S. household spent $3,100 on gas in 2021, according to Yardeni Research. But the recent spike in gas could end up costing Americans as much as $2,000 more this year, the investment research firm estimated in a report.

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