By Nathalie Voit
Average gas prices in the U.S. reached a new record high yet again this week as increased gas demand and the elevated cost of crude oil continue to raise prices at the pump.
According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), the national average for a gallon of regular gas hit $4.59 a gallon on May 20, the highest on record. Fuel prices have increased for the past 11 consecutive days.
AAA noted the price of gas has risen by more than 10 cents since the beginning of the week and is now nearly 50 cents higher than one month ago. Compared to the year-ago period, gas prices are $1.55 higher on average.
AAA national spokesman Andrew Gross said pump prices are unlikely to go down soon, particularly if the war in Ukraine drags on.
“Even the annual seasonal demand dip for gasoline during the lull between spring break and Memorial Day, which would normally help lower prices, is having no effect this year,” he wrote.
The association blames the record-high prices at the pump on tighter supply and increased demand, a phenomenon that has kept gas prices elevated for an “unprecedented” time.
In the week ending May 13, U.S. gasoline inventories fell by 4.8 million barrels to 220.2 million barrels, data from the Energy Information Administration released on May 18 found. Meanwhile, gasoline demand rose from 8.7 million barrels a day (b/d) to 9 million b/d.
In conjunction with the volatile crude price, this supply/demand imbalance “will likely continue to place upward pressure on pump prices,” AAA said in a news release.
Oil prices have ranged around the $100 to $110 a barrel area since late February. U.S. oil benchmark WTI Crude ended regular trading on May 20 at $112.70 a barrel, while global oil standard Brent Crude settled at $112.55 at the close of formal trading on Friday. Today’s barrel of oil costs about $45 higher on average than in August.
“The high cost of oil, the key ingredient in gasoline, is driving these high pump prices for consumers,” Gross said.
As of May 19, all 50 states reported average gas prices higher than $4 a gallon.