Gasoline prices are hitting their highest level in seven years as Memorial Day weekend and an overall loosening of coronavirus-induced restrictions is expected to put millions of Americans on the road.
The current average price for unleaded gasoline is $3.04 per gallon. That’s 18 cents more than a month ago and $1.13 per gallon higher than last year, according to AAA.
The association projects 37 million Americans will travel this weekend, up 60 percent from last year, when lockdowns were in vogue across most of the country.
Although gasoline prices usually inch higher in the summer driving season, prices received a major boost earlier this month when the Colonial Pipeline, which supplies gas to much of the East Coast, was shut down for several days after a ransomware attack.
“This summer is going to be a tough summer at the pump for consumers,” said John Kilduff, founding partner of Again Capital, according to CNBC.
Kilduff said gas prices are likely to stay high as oil prices continue to rise.
“I think we have to worry about prices, supply and crowd behavior,” said Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis for the Oil Price Information Service, according to CNN Business.
“I think the propensity for panic among the population is much, much higher than it has been,” Kloza said, referring to panic sales that took place when the pipeline was down.
“There’s part of me that feels like the market has a potential to overheat this summer, just because people are stuck here,” Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, said, according to CNBC.
“Everyone wants to get out. If there’s any hiccup in the system this summer, it’s going to be hard to fuel up.”
De Haan said prices could skyrocket if there are disruptions in the flow of product to gas stations.
“Usually when prices go up 50 cents, people say they’ll just stay home, but not this year, with the pent-up demand. If there’s any kinks in the system, it could get ugly,” he said.
Prices vary greatly by region. For example, according to CNN, most stations in California sell gas for at least $3.75 per gallon or higher, giving the state the nation’s highest average price for a gallon of gas at $4.17.
Louisiana and Mississippi hold the national low at an average of $2.72 a gallon.
Former President Donald Trump pinned the blame for high gas prices squarely upon his successor, President Joe Biden.
“I’m sorry to say the gasoline prices that you will be confronted with are far higher than they were just a short number of months ago where we had gasoline under $2 a gallon,” Trump posted on his website Thursday.
“Remember as you’re watching the meter tick, and your dollars pile up, how great of a job Donald Trump did as President,” Trump wrote. “Soon Russia and the Middle East will be making a fortune on oil, and you will be saying how good it was to have me as your President. Wasn’t it great to be energy independent, but we are energy independent no more. Shame, shame, shame. Other than that, have a great Memorial Day Weekend!”
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