The average price of gasoline at the pump is now above $4 in every U.S. state for the first time ever, with the average national price of gas reaching a record $4.567 a gallon.
While some states like Kansas, Oklahoma, and Georgia saw their fuel prices tip over $4 for the first time last night, others like California are averaging a record $6.05 a gallon at the pump, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA).
While $6 a gallon seems unlikely outside California at the moment, some experts expect everyone else to catch up. The average price of gasoline in the U.S. could climb above $6 a gallon by August, according to Natasha Kaneva, head of global commodities research at J.P. Morgan in a report to investors and an analyst interview with CNN. She added that the level of gasoline in storage is dwindling ahead of the summer travel months.
But across the ocean, Europe is already paying that… and a bit more. In the U.K., cars are filling their tanks up at $7.70 a gallon, while in the Netherlands and Germany, prices are reaching $8.25, according to Global Petrol Prices, a website tracking the retail price of motor fuel. And in Norway and Denmark, the price of a gallon of gas is topping $9.
Summer road trips postponed
Driving the rising fuel prices is the high price of crude oil, which has soared in recent months after Russia invaded Ukraine, and the strong post-COVID-19 rebound in demand. But there are also too few refineries in the U.S. turning oil into usable fuels.
Since the pandemic sunk the demand for gasoline and jet fuel to record lows, more than 5% of the U.S.’s overall refining capacity has been permanently shut off.
At the same time as the U.S. refinery supply squeeze, European countries weaning themselves off exports of Russian oil and naphtha—a petroleum product used to make fuel—are looking to the U.S. to supply more of the world’s fuel.
Despite U.S. President Joe Biden’s best efforts to quell rising prices by releasing crude oil from emergency reserves, this has translated to little relief at the pump.
The Energy Information Administration, the statistical agency of the U.S. government’s Department of Energy, forecasted on May 10 that the average U.S. household will have to spend $450 more on an inflation-adjusted basis for gasoline this year compared to last year.
It’s too early to know how this latest price increase will impact U.S. drivers and their summer travel plans, Ellen Edmonds a spokesperson for AAA told Bloomberg. She added that historically, people still forge ahead with vacations, but they find other ways to offset the price at the pump.
Meanwhile, people in the U.K. are just avoiding the pumps completely. Ascona Group, which owns 60 gas stations across the U.K., said the amount of fuel it sold dropped by more than 52,800 gallons a week compared to pre-pandemic levels.
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