Motorists are beginning to feel a little more pain at the pump as gasoline prices, stable for the last few weeks, have moved higher over the last few days.
AAA reports the national average price of regular gas is $3.88 a gallon. That’s about four cents a gallon higher than a week ago but is about the same price motorists were paying a month ago. But compared to this time last year, the average price is 20 cents a gallon more.
The average price of premium gas is $4.65 a gallon and the average price of diesel fuel is $4.58 a gallon. The prices of both have risen more than 10 cents a gallon in the last seven days.
Across the country, there is a wide disparity in price on a state-by-state basis. In California, the statewide average price of regular is $5.76 a gallon, the highest in the nation. In Los Angeles, the average price is even higher – $6.03 a gallon.
Mississippi has the cheapest gas in the nation. The statewide average is $3.30 a gallon.
Prices are rising because the price of oil has begun to rise, hitting $90 a barrel. Saudi Arabia and Russia have agreed to curtail production in an effort to keep prices elevated.
Domestic producers have upped their game
Patrick DeHaan, head of Petroleum Analysis at GasBuddy, has reported U.S. production has increased in an effort to make up for lost supply. He reports U.S. oil production is up 800,000 barrels a day from this time a year ago. Since January 2021, U.S. producers have increased their output by 1.9 million barrels a day.
That, and a couple of other factors, may put a ceiling on how high gasoline prices will rise.
“Oil costs are putting upward pressure on pump prices, but the rise is tempered by much lower demand,” said Andrew Gross, AAA’s spokesperson. “The slide in people fueling up is typical, with schools back in session, the days getting shorter, and the weather less pleasant. But the usual decline in pump prices is being stymied for now by these high oil costs.”
Other relief may come from refiners. Gasoline producers have begun the process of switching over to winter-grade fuel blends, which cost less than summer-grade fuel.