The cost of gas is ticking up again. The national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline crept to $4.12 on Monday, according to AAA — up from $4.09 a week earlier.
The price of crude oil, which accounts for about 60% of the retail price of gasoline, is largely to blame, experts say. Oil prices rose sharply in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which sent pump prices soaring to a peak national average of $4.33 per gallon (and more than $5 per gallon in several cities) earlier this spring. (Which, in turn, drove the U.S. inflation rate to its highest level in decades).
Last week, oil prices ticked up again as the European Union weighed new sanctions on Russia's energy industry. Russia is a major oil producer, and any disruption to the country's oil exports is virtually guaranteed to have global consequences. As of Monday morning, crude prices had retreated somewhat amid the threat of another COVID-19 outbreak in China.
Right now, gas is most expensive in Western states like California ($5.69 per gallon) and Nevada ($5.08 per gallon), according to AAA data. Prices are lowest in Southern states like Georgia ($3.71 per gallon) and Arkansas ($3.74 per gallon).
Where are gas prices headed next?
The volatility surrounding the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, plus the looming possibility of coronavirus-related lockdowns in China, makes future gas prices difficult to predict.
The EIA is forecasting that retail gas prices will average $3.84 per gallon across the country this summer. That’s significantly higher than prices last summer, which averaged $3.06 per gallon and the highest summer average since 2014, but it’s far from the all-time highs notched in March.
Still, “As long as the price of [crude] oil stays elevated, the price at the pump will struggle to fall,” Andrew Gross, AAA spokesperson, said in a statement Monday. “Consumers may be catching a little break from March’s record-high prices, but don’t expect any dramatic drops.”