Gas prices are seen at a station in Daly City, Calif., on March 5. AAA said that the national average rose by five cents per gallon from Monday to Tuesday. File Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI | License Photo
May 10 (UPI) -- The average cost of gasoline in the United States has risen to the highest mark on record and could go even higher with the traditionally busy summer months ahead.
According to AAA, the national average on Tuesday was $4.37 per gallon -- an increase of five cents from Monday and 17 cents compared to a week ago.
The average is the highest in the United States since AAA began tracking prices.
A month ago, the average was $4.11 and a year ago it was $2.97.
The average cost for diesel, which powers many of the vehicles that transport goods across the country, was $5.55 per gallon on Tuesday. A month ago, the diesel mark was $5.04 and a year ago it was $3.11.
There are various reasons for the sharp increase in prices recently, including the disruption of global supplies due to the war in Ukraine and higher demand in the United States with the approach of the Memorial Day holiday, which traditionally is the start of the heavier summer driving season.
"Liquid fuels have turned into liquid gold, with prices for gasoline and diesel spiraling out of control with little power to harness them as the imbalance between supply and demand globally continues to widen with each passing day," Patrick De Haan, a petroleum analyst at GasBuddy, said in a statement on Tuesday.
"Russia's oil increasingly remains out of the market, crimping supply while demand rebounds ahead of the summer driving season. There's little, if any, good news about fuel prices heading into summer."
According to AAA on Tuesday, California has the nation's most expensive gas, at $5.84 per gallon. File Photo by Terry Schmitt/UPI
De Haan said that the summer storm season could also lead to higher prices -- as hurricanes and tropical storms sometimes disrupt domestic supplies if they shut down or delay refineries near the coastlines.
"The problem could become worse should we see an above average hurricane season, which could knock out refinery capacity at a time we badly need it as refined product inventories continue to plummet," De Haan added.
California has the nation's most expensive gas, with an average of $5.84 per gallon. Hawaii and Nevada also have an average above $5. The least-expensive gas is found in Georgia ($3.90), Missouri ($3.93) and Oklahoma ($3.95).
Rising energy prices have been the primary driver of inflation over the past year.
A Yahoo/Maru Public Opinion survey this month indicate that the high gas prices will affect summer travel. Two-thirds of respondents said that they have made or will make significant changes to their driving patterns if the cost of gasoline rises much higher.
President Joe Biden has made multiple moves to control rising prices, which were effective in bringing the costs down in March and April. But the ongoing fighting in Ukraine and rising demand are beginning to counteract those efforts -- which included tapping the strategic oil reserve for an extra 180 million barrels and permitting the sale of E15 during the summer months.
On Monday, the price of crude oil declined to their lowest level in weeks, roughly $103 per barrel.
The White House unveiled a strategy on Tuesday to get control of rising inflation by taking steps to become more energy independent and lower the deficit. Biden was scheduled to detail the strategy in a speech at the White House on Tuesday morning.
"President Biden has a plan to tackle inflation -- by lowering costs that families face and lowering the federal deficit by asking the large corporations and the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share," the White House said.
"Advancing the strongest ever fuel economy standards for cars and trucks to enable drivers to go farther on every gallon, while increasing options for families to make the switch to electric cars ... [will] set America on course to ensure one of every two cars sold in 2030 burns no fossil fuels."
The rising prices come as some oil producers are posting record profits. Chevron, ExxonMobil, Shell and BP all reported increases in revenues and profits for the first three months of 2022.