Gas prices are rising rapidly, yet again. The national average for a gallon of regular is up 11 cents in one week and now sits just 5 cents below the all-time high notched in March. At this rate, gas prices could reach a new record high very soon — perhaps even over the weekend.
According to the automotive club AAA, the average price per gallon is $4.28 on Friday. That’s an increase of more than 4 cents since just yesterday and 11 cents since last Friday.
The highest average price for a gallon of regular gas ever recorded in the U.S. was $4.33, on March 11. Meanwhile, several cities saw average gas prices soar beyond $5 for the first time. The surging cost of gasoline in March contributed to the 8.5% inflation rate, a four-decade high.
April brought a brief reprieve at the pump, when gas prices fell for several weeks in a row. Now, they’re trending upward again — and fast.
Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania are seeing price increases much faster than the national average. Since last week, the average cost of a gallon rose 31 cents in Michigan, 19 cents in Ohio and more than 17 cents in Pennsylvania. As usual, drivers in western states as well as Alaska and Hawaii are paying the highest prices for gas. The average price per gallon in California is a whopping $5.78. In Hawaii, it’s $5.28, and in Nevada it’s $5.11.
While regular gas prices are on their way to new all-time highs, diesel prices have already set a new record. AAA reports the average price per gallon is at a record high of $5.51 nationwide as of Friday, marking a 33-cent jump in one week.
Why gas prices are so high
Experts point to rising oil prices as a major reason why diesel and regular gasoline are currently so expensive. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, the price of crude oil accounts for about 60% of the price we pay at the pump for regular gas.
The price per barrel of crude oil has been spiking in the aftermath of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has upended the global oil supply. For example, on Feb. 24, the day Russia invaded, the price per barrel of crude oil was about $92 on the West Texas Intermediate market. On Friday, it’s above $109.
Gas prices have yet to stabilize as energy companies like Shell and BP pull out of Russia and the European Union rolls out sanctions on Russian oil, thus potentially tightening oil supply further.
Shell reported that leaving Russia would cost it billions, but that didn’t stop the energy behemoth from raking in a profit of $9.1 billion from January to March, the company’s most profitable quarter ever.
While gas is undoubtedly breaking the bank for many Americans, perhaps there's some solace in knowing things aren't quite as bad as they were during the Great Recession. Gas prices then hit $4.11. While nominally lower than now, that comes out to $5.27 when adjusted for inflation.