Average US gas price spikes to $3.64, further increases likely
TAMPA, Fla. - The average U.S. price of a gallon of regular-grade gasoline spiked 10 cents over the past two weeks to $3.64 per gallon.
Oil prices spiked last week when Russia invaded Ukraine, but AAA said the prices quickly retreated to previous levels after President Joe Biden announced sanctions that did not specifically target Russian oil.
However, once international trading began on Sunday night, oil prices once again shot up – likely in reaction to the removal of Russian banks from the SWIFT financial network, a vital element of global commerce and banking that moves money from bank to bank around the world.
Industry analyst Trilby Lundberg of the Lundberg Survey said Sunday that further increases are likely.
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As of Monday morning, the U.S. price of oil was trading above $96 per barrel – an increase of nearly $5 a barrel, or 5%, from Friday's closing price of $91.59.
"Unless oil prices reverse course, the pain at the pump is about to get even worse for Floridians," said AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins. "There has been a lot of speculation about oil prices, and the high seems like a moving target. If oil lands at $95 a barrel for a sustained period of time, drivers could expect to see a 15 cent jump at the pump. If U.S. oil reaches $100 a barrel, the total increase would be more like 25-30 cents per gallon."
Oil prices have increased around $20 per barrel in 2022. At $96 per barrel, the US price for oil is up nearly $50 since the beginning of 2021 – that's a 100% jump.
With Russia being a major global oil producer, experts predict gas prices will rise another 20 cents over the next few weeks.
But Russia's war on Ukraine isn't the only reason gas prices will keep going up.
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Spring break is around the corner, followed by the summer driving season, both of which typically lead to strong fuel demand, according to AAA. Summer gasoline moving into the market is also more expensive to produce, while refineries conduct seasonal maintenance, which can reduce normal production levels. In addition to those seasonal trends, an explosion at a Louisiana refinery last week could also be a factor.
The price at the pump is about a dollar higher than it was a year ago.
Nationwide, the highest average price for regular-grade gas is in the San Francisco Bay Area, at $4.86 per gallon. The lowest average is in Houston, at $3.14 per gallon. Florida's average is at $3.52 per gallon, up four cents from last week. It's the state's most expensive daily average since July 2014.
AAA says gas prices in the Sunshine State have risen an average of 33 cents per gallon since the beginning of 2022, and $1.33 per gallon since the beginning of 2021.