Gas prices rising again? Experts warn of ‘many possible outcomes’ as oil prices increase

MarketWatch

April 25, 2022, 11:17 AM

The national average for a gallon of gas is $4.11. While it’s lower than March, it’s the first increase in prices in weeks.

As of Wednesday, the national average for a regular gallon of gas is $4.11, according to AAA. While it’s still a ways to go from the national record – not adjusted for inflation – of $4.33 reached on March 11, it is the first weekly increase since the average was $4.07 one week ago.

Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at fuel-savings app GasBuddy, wrote on Monday that oil prices could play a role in the increasing prices for gas.

“We’ve now seen the national average price of gasoline decline every week for the last month, a feat we most likely would not have expected ahead of summer and given the continued turns in Russia’s war on Ukraine,” De Haan wrote. “However, the downturn could slow or could even reverse in the days ahead if the rally in oil prices continues.”

Cars line up at a Sunoco gas station offering high-level ethanol-gasoline blends at a cost below regular gasoline, Wednesday, April 13, 2022, in Delray Beach, Fla.

Even though President Joe Biden ordered on March 31 the release of up to 180 million barrels of oil from the country’s emergency reserves within the next six months in an effort to help lower costs, global oil prices continue to climb.

U.S. crude oil costs $102.54 per barrel, while Brent crude, the international standard, costs $105.49 as of Tuesday, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Prices could continue to rise as well, as the European Union is planning to ban Russian oil. For reference, when gas prices were at their highest, U.S. crude oil and Brent crude were around $125 and $130 a barrel, respectively.

Ramanan Krishnamoorti, a professor at the University of Houston, told USA TODAY in March Russian crude oil only accounts for 3% of U.S. imports, but the “heavier, sour crude” oil it produces helps U.S. refiners, as they are not designed to use only light, sweet crude oil.

“A barrel of crude is now $14 higher than it was last week, as the European Union weighs placing harsher sanctions on Russia. This could further tilt the delicate balance of supply and demand in the wrong way, potentially sending oil prices up significantly if implemented. The path forward at the pump remains murky, however, with many possible outcomes, so motorists should be prepared for a bumpy ride,” De Haan said.

Andrew Gross, AAA spokesperson, said on Monday people will also be hitting the road more in the coming weeks and months “as the days get longer, the weather gets warmer.”

California, Hawaii and Nevada remain the only states averaging over $5 a gallon as of Wednesday, with California averaging the nation’s high of $5.69. The lowest gas prices in the country belong to Georgia ($3.71), Arkansas ($3.73) and Missouri ($3.75.)

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