Gas prices are rising faster than they have in months, and there’s no relief in sight for weary drivers.
The average price for a gallon of unleaded gas in the U.S. reached yet another record high on Tuesday—$4.92—after shooting up nearly 30 cents in one week. As the chart below shows, that’s the biggest jump for any 7-day period since mid-March, when Russia’s invasion of Ukraine first pushed prices to a new record high.
Experts don’t see things easing anytime soon. Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy, is now predicting that prices will hit the “psychologically critical” $5 mark this week rather than next. Last month, JPMorgan Chase predicted $6.20 by August.
What’s causing the steep climb? It’s a mix of high prices for the crude oil that gas is made from, supply shortages, a lack of production capacity, and increasing summer demand. The prospect of more sanctions against Russian oil has helped keep oil prices above $110 a barrel, well over $20 more than what they were before the war broke out. Meanwhile, analysts say U.S. refinery capacity to process oil into gasoline still lags what it was before the pandemic.
If you can’t avoid driving, there are still things you can do. Aim to go to the gas pump at the start or end of the week, according to GasBuddy, which studied several years’ worth of data to conclude that Monday and Friday were the best days for a fill-up. Sunday and Tuesday, when prices aren’t quite as advantageous, serve as good “top-off” days, the February study found, while Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday are the worst days to buy gas.
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