This won’t come as a shock to anyone who’s filled up their tanks recently, but gas prices are soaring. In fact, the price at the pump is at a seven-year high. But what’s driving this spike?
The average cost for a gallon of gas this week was $3.38, which is $1.22 higher than last year, according to the AAA Gas Index. That’s a 57 percent increase. Drivers are spending an extra $22 to fill up their tanks at these prices.
“With the U.S. economy slowly recovering from the depths of the pandemic, demand for gas is robust, but the supply is tight,” said AAA spokesperson Andrew Gross in a statement. “We haven’t seen prices this high since September of 2014.”
Though the price per gallon can differ wildly from state to state. Drivers in parts of California are paying nearly $8 a gallon, according to The Daily Mail. Texas had the lowest average prices at $3.04.
Many struggling families want President Joe Biden to do something to lower the prices. But the administration says they have few options.
“There are limitations to what any president can do, as it relates to gas prices,” press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday, according to CNN. The Department of Energy told MSNBC that it has “no immediate plans” to open the nation’s emergency oil reserves.
Many online have discussed how the production of oil was impacted by the pandemic.
Gas Prices Normally Drop in the Fall
Gas prices generally peak in the summer as more families hit the road for vacations. But because of the pandemic, plans are being scuttled or rescheduled. That’s behind a lot of the spike in demand, experts said.
“Demand is back. It’s been a tough couple of years with the pandemic,” AAA spokesman Doug Shupe said told the LA Times. “Now, with the increased vaccinations, more people want to get out there to share the open roads with friends and family.”
But there may be hope around the bend. OPEC has promised to increase production. Some companies slowed their drilling operations because of the decreased demand last year, experts said. But they are ramping up production again, though it takes time for that to reach the market. And while costs vary from state to state, many believe we are at peak prices and should see prices decrease starting next month.
“I think between now and the end of the year, we’ll see prices noticeably lower than they are today,” said Clay Ingram, marketing and public relations director for AAA Alabama. “I think we’re pretty close to our peak price point, and prices will get better within the next two weeks or so.”