Gas prices could soon hit $4 per gallon in wake of invasion

Gas prices at Springfield stations are all over $3.30 per gallon for regular. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

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Gas prices at Springfield stations are all over $3.30 per gallon for regular. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

Ohio’s average price has risen for months, to $3.32, which is the state’s highest since 2014

Gas prices have risen for the past eight weeks, and an industry analyst says consumers could see prices at $4 per gallon by late spring in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy, said the escalation of pump prices could be swift as a result of the invasion. He said the market was concentrating on possible outcomes and the effect on global oil production amid recovering demand.

“It’s possible we have a good shot of seeing $4 a gallon later this spring,” De Haan said. “Russia has been the primary catalyst of what we experienced as of late. The oil prices will follow the headlines.”

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On Thursday, the national average price for a gallon of gas was $3.55 a gallon, up about 20 cents a gallon from a month ago and 89 cents higher per gallon than a year ago, according to GasBuddy.com.

Prices currently average $3.32 in Ohio, their highest level in the state since September 2014, according to a study from GasBuddy. That average price is up 37 cents in just one month.

De Haan said gas prices in Ohio will rise to $3.50 in the next week or two and could go higher.

“It’s going to be a bumpy ride,” he said. “Any country that uses gas will feel the impact of what’s happening in Ukraine.”

Officials from the American Automobile Association said U.S.-led financial sanctions imposed on Russia because of the Ukraine invasion will affect prices at the pump. It is presumed Russia will retaliate by withholding oil from the world market, which is already tight and struggling to keep up with demand as nations worldwide move on from COVID-related economic slowdowns.

“Russia is one of the leading oil producers globally, behind only the United States and Saudi Arabia,” said Andrew Gross, AAA spokesperson. “And if they choose to withhold their oil from the global market, such a move would eventually be reflected in higher gas prices for American drivers.”

But the Russian invasion in Ukraine is only one factor in rising gas prices. De Haan said other factors include seasonal changes as refineries switch over to summer blends of gasoline from winter blends, annual maintenance of refineries and the seasonal demand with spring and summer travel seasons. In addition, there are two refineries that are not in operation due to damage from Hurricane Ida.

He also said with more disruptions of Russian oil, there is no way to replace those barrels reaching global markets. De Haan said Russia is a top producer of crude oil.

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“There is a lot on the table that are putting prices up,” he said. “I don’t see any drastic improvements anytime soon.”

According to AAA, Ohio’s weekly average increased 10 cents over last week’s average. That is the highest weekly increase of any state in the U.S.

Locally, weekly increases in Ohio’s metro areas are all over the board. Cincinnati’s weekly increase was only one cent; but Toledo’s weekly increase was 14 cents and Dayton’s weekly increase was a whopping 17 cents, according to AAA.

De Haan said gas prices had already been moving higher earlier in the week with the Russian invasion threat.

“However, with nuclear talks between Iran and global powers ongoing in Vienna, the possibility exists that a new deal could bring Iran’s crude oil supply back to legitimate markets, helping to ease a slight portion of supply concerns,” De Haan said.


Driving tips to conserve gas

  • Combine trips: Do all your errands together, with the one farthest away from home first and then make your way through your errands closer to home.
  • Car maintenance: Make sure your vehicle maintenance is up to date. Check tires for inflation and tread depth, plus air and oil filters and other components to make sure your car running at its optimal level.
  • Use loyalty programs: Grocery stores, warehouse stores and gas stations have loyalty programs that can save consumers money on gasoline.

SOURCE: AAA

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