Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Fuel prices up 45 cents in 7 days, expected to break 2008 records this week

Experts expect oil prices to continue increasing, outpacing the national average from a decade ago at $4.11 a gallon. (Courtesy AAA)

Customers at the pump are feeling the sting of rising fuel prices, up by $1.30 from last year and by 45 cents over the past seven days.

The national average for gas is $4.06 currently, according to AAA. That’s the steepest it’s been since July 2008 when it topped out at $4.11.

Costs are likely to continue rising, even break records, GasBuddy’s Patrick De Haan has suggested. Head of petroleum analysis, De Haan tweeted the national average could reach a new all-time high within the next 24 hours and rise more by the end of the week. 

The fuel-tracking app experienced record-high use and experienced technical glitches Monday as people are checking in to find the most inexpensive fuel in their vicinity, De Haan added.

Per GasBuddy’s 2022 Fuel Price Outlook, gas prices are projected to peak at $4.25 in May and remain over $4 through October, with the annual average expected to come in around $3.99 a gallon. In 2021, gasoline spending in the U.S. was around $408 million; 2022 could rise by 39% to $568.3 billion, GasBuddy predicts.

With supply issues already affecting the industry, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has added pressure on supply and in effect pushed up prices. Particularly, the United States and European Union signed off on punitive sanctions to affect the Kremlin’s economy, including some export restrictions that affect its crude oil refineries.

“As the conflict continues, the oil markets will likely respond by increasing the price of crude oil to reflect more risk of disruption to tight global oil supplies this week,” AAA stated in a news release Monday.

Last Friday, International Energy Agency members released 61.7 million barrels from strategic reserves — the largest since its founding in 1974 — in an attempt to counter rising costs. Half of the reserves will come from the United States, with 31 member countries, including Germany, Canada, South Korea, and Mexico, pulling from their supplies too.

Still, the release of reserves won’t stack up to the amount Russia provides globally — around 12%, according AAA. Falling behind Saudi Arabia in crude oil production, Russia supplies 40% to the European Union; the United States gets 8% of fuel imported from Russia. Many world leaders, particularly in Europe, are cautious about imposing further sanctions.

[Update: On Tuesday, Mar. 8, President Joe Biden banned U.S. imports of Russian oil and indicated fuel prices will continue to rise.]

While the conflict between the countries are affecting prices, GasBuddy also points to “seasonal factors” as problematic. Recently, gas demand has increased as mask mandates have dropped across the nation and people are getting out more.

Prices likely will continue rising as summer vacations get underway, along with “refinery maintenance and the switch to summer blend gas, on top of current geopolitical tensions,” GasBuddy noted in a release.

New data from the Energy Information Administration shows total domestic gasoline stocks decreased by 500,000 barrels to 246 million barrels last week — yet, demand increased from 8.66 million barrels per day to 8.74 million barrels per day.

AAA has listed North Carolina’s average fuel prices as of Mar. 7 at $4.06 a gallon. New Hanover County is averaging $3.96, Brunswick is $3.91 and Pender is $4.03.

The highest recorded prices of gas in North Carolina, according to AAA, date back to September 2008, with an average $4.08 a gallon. Diesel also reached $4.80 a gallon in July of the same year.

10 states with greatest weekly fuel increases, according to AAA:
Rhode Island: +58 cents
Nevada: +57 cents
Connecticut: +56 cents
Kentucky: +56 cents
Alabama: +56 cents
West Virginia: +55 cents
Virginia: +55 cents
Massachusetts: +54 cents
New Hampshire: +52 cents
New Jersey: +52 cents

10 most expensive markets, according to AAA:
California: $5.34
Hawaii: $4.69
Nevada: $4.59
Oregon: $4.51
Washington: $4.44
Alaska: $4.39
Illinois: $4.30
Connecticut: $4.28
New York: $4.26
Pennsylvania: $4.23

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Shea Carver
Shea Carver
Shea Carver is the editor in chief at Port City Daily. A UNCW alumna, Shea worked in the print media business in Wilmington for 22 years before joining the PCD team in October 2020. She specializes in arts coverage — music, film, literature, theatre — the dining scene, and can often be tapped on where to go, what to do and who to see in Wilmington. When she isn’t hanging with her pup, Shadow Wolf, tending the garden or spinning vinyl, she’s attending concerts and live theater.

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