The average price of regular-grade gasoline has crossed the $5 threshold for the first time ever after spiking 30 cents over the past three weeks to $5.01 per gallon, according to AAA.
Monday marks the 16th consecutive day that fuel prices reached a national record.
While gas prices usually tick up during the period just after Memorial Day, this year’s surge is particularly painful to American consumers as surging demand, low inventory, and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have created a perfect storm.
The average price jumped 18 cents in the previous week, and was $1.92 higher than this time last year.
Just a month ago, gas was 61 cents cheaper on the average, according to AAA. Last year at this time, gas cost $3.08 per gallon on average.
The previous high was set more than a decade ago. In July 2008, the national average of gasoline was $4.11 per gallon — or around $5.37 in today’s dollars. At the time, oil was trading at more than $133 a barrel.
The price of oil ticked down slightly over the weekend. As of early Monday morning, the US benchmark, West Texas Intermediate, was trading at $118.90 per barrel. Brent Crude, the international benchmark, fell $1.59 to $120.40 per barrel.
As of Monday, gas was well above $4 per gallon in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
California bears the dubious distinction of being the state with the highest gas prices. Motorists in the Golden State have to pay an average of $6.44 per gallon, AAA reported.
Gasoline prices have been surging since April 2020, when the initial shock of the pandemic drove prices under $1.80 a gallon, according to government figures.
They hit $3 in May 2021 and cruised past $4 this March.
Analysts say there are no quick fixes. It’s a matter of supply and demand, and supply can’t be ramped up overnight.
If anything, the global oil supply will grow tighter as sanctions against Russia take hold. European Union leaders have vowed to ban most Russian oil by the end of this year.
The US has already imposed a ban even as Biden acknowledged it would affect American consumers. He said the ban was necessary so that the US does not subsidize Russia’s war in Ukraine.
“Defending freedom is going to cost,” he declared.
Biden is reportedly planning to travel to Saudi Arabia to meet with its de facto ruler, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as part of a plan to lobby oil producers to boost output.
The Saudi ruler was previously shunned by the Biden administration for his alleged role in the 2018 killing of a journalist Jama Khashhoggi, a critic of the Riyadh regime who was living in the US at the time of his murder.
With Post wires