US gas prices back near record highs, hammering motorists
US motorists gearing up for their warm weather road trips are set to encounter fresh record high gas prices this week as inflation continues to hammer household budgets.
The national average price of a gallon of gas was $4.328 as of Monday afternoon, according to AAA data. That price was up about 20 cents compared to one month ago and well over a dollar higher than the same day one year ago.
The cost of gas is within a fraction of the all-time high established in March, when the national average hit an unprecedented $4.331 as the Russian invasion of Ukraine caused disruption to global energy shipments.
In New York, gas prices have already hit a new record. The statewide price of regular gas was $4.518 – nearly 30 cents higher than one month ago – while diesel hit an absurd $6.383.
“Increasing gas demand and rising oil prices have pushed pump prices higher. Pump prices will likely face upward pressure as oil prices remain above $105 per barrel,” AAA said in a blog post detailing the price surge.
Oil prices hovered near $110 per barrel last week as the European Union weighed a possible ban on Russian energy shipments in response to the Ukraine war. A possible embargo further upended an energy market that was already contending with supply concerns and disruptions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
US crude oil prices moderated slightly on Monday, sinking nearly 7% to $102 per barrel during a sharp selloff on Wall Street and concerned about renewed COVID-19 lockdowns in China.
The Labor Department’s most recent Consumer Price Index from March showed the extent to which gas prices are contributing to inflation.
The March CPI surged 8.5%, its highest annual rate since 1981. That same month, gas prices rose 18.3% — an increase that accounted for more than half of the monthly inflation surge.
The Biden administration sought to alleviate pressure on US motorists by releasing tens of millions of barrels of oil from the strategic reserve – but that measure has had little sustained impact on prices.
Prices are likely to continue climbing in the days ahead.
“While motorists filling with gasoline have seen a slight rise in prices, diesel’s surge will be a double whammy as diesel prices will soon be passed along to retail channels, further pushing up the cost of goods,” GasBuddy analyst Patrick De Haan said.