Gas prices have been rising for six straight weeks — and it's not like they were cheap to begin with. Now, experts are saying drivers should expect even more pain at the pump later in 2022.
As of Monday, the average price for a gallon of regular gas stood at $3.44, according to AAA. That's an increase of 8 cents in one week and 98 cents more than it cost one year ago. The last time drivers faced prices this high at gas stations was 2014.
As usual, drivers in California have it particularly rough: Gas in the Golden State now costs $4.68 per gallon on average. Hawaii is well over the $4 mark as well, at $4.41. Even in the states with the cheapest gas prices, like Mississippi and Arkansas, a gallon of regular is averaging over $3.
Most concerning of all, there's no relief in sight. In fact, experts are predicting that gas prices will creep even higher in the weeks and months ahead.
“With the national average at its highest level since 2014, the news is grim: Motorists should expect even more price increases, with the larger jumps coming later this spring as a confluence of seasonal factors and the potential flare up in geopolitical tensions," Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for the gas price-tracking app GasBuddy, said in a blog post.
Why are gas prices so high?
The global price of crude oil accounts for roughly half of what Americans pay to fill up at the gas station. Lately, crude oil prices have risen steeply, thanks largely to continued concerns that Russia will invade Ukraine and the global supply of oil could shrink. Crude oil recently hit a seven-year high at around $93 per barrel, compared to $76 at the end of 2021.
That's not the only reason fuel costs are expected to keep rising. Gas station prices almost always increase a bit when the seasons change and suppliers shift from the cheaper, winter blend of fuel to more expensive, summer-grade gasoline.
Toward the end of last year, government forecasts indicated that drivers could look forward to much cheaper gas prices in 2022. But the opposite is looking more and more likely.
"Ultimately, the national average could be pushed to record territory by the start of the summer driving season,” said GasBuddy's De Haan.
To cut costs in the meantime, consider driving a fuel-efficient vehicle, filling up on Fridays and Mondays — which are supposedly the cheapest days of the week for gas — and using a credit card that gives cash back on gas purchases.