US reports record $5 average price for petrol

Summer travel picks up as prices rise due to supply constraints from pandemic and Russia's war in Ukraine

Cars drive by a Chevron petrol station in Los Angeles, California, where the price for regular petrol per gallon is more than $6 dollars. EPA
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The US reported a record $5 average for petrol prices on Thursday as the country continues to grapple with its highest ever levels of inflation and increased demand.

Data from fuel savings website GasBuddy showed that the US average price of fuel has “surpassed $5 per gallon today for the first time ever”. The American Automobile Association (AAA) reported the slightly lower figure of $4.97.

And prices at the pump are as high as $6 in California and Washington, DC, reports say.

Some Americans blame President Joe Biden for the rise in prices, but much of it is out of his control.

“The idea we’re going to be able to click a switch, bring down the cost of gasoline, it’s not likely in the near term,” Mr Biden said last week.

As countries began lifting pandemic restrictions earlier this year, increased demand coupled with a limited supply caused prices to climb. But as the US and other western countries slapped sanctions on Russia — a major oil producer — for its invasion of Ukraine, prices skyrocketed.

Now, demand has increased even further as people across the country begin travelling more for work and leisure. This, along with a decline in US refining capacity, means the petrol crisis is likely far from over.

Opec+ recently agreed to increase its July supply output after repeated requests by the US to increase production. Mr Biden may travel to Saudi Arabia this month and petrol prices will be on the agenda.

“It’s been one kink after another this year and worst of all, demand doesn’t seem to be responding to the surge in gas prices, meaning there is a high probability that prices could go even higher in the weeks ahead,” Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, said in a statement.

“It’s a perfect storm of factors all aligning to create a rare environment of rapid price hikes.”

AAA reported that, even with higher prices, many people are not adjusting their consumption.

“People are still fuelling up, despite these high prices,” Andrew Gross, a spokesman for the organisation, said in a statement.

“At some point, drivers may change their daily driving habits or lifestyle due to these high prices, but we are not there yet.”

Updated: June 10, 2022, 3:12 AM