As the summer has gone on, gas prices have continued to rise. According to Gas Buddy, the average gas price in the U.S. has risen to $3.12 per gallon as of Tuesday, a 3.2 cents per gallon increase over the previous week.
That price is 7.9 cents higher than a month earlier and 94.3 cents higher than this time last year, in which the pandemic led to a crash in demand for gasoline.
This week, there’s a new reason for prices to be higher-disagreements within OPEC.
“Gasoline demand over the holiday weekend certainly did not disappoint as millions of Americans flooded the roads for the long weekend, guzzling down gasoline at a clip not seen in years. In the process, we could have set new all-time records for consumption,” Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy, said in a blog post-Tuesday.
The site added that demand for gasoline this week rose 4.7 percent, hitting a new high since the start of the pandemic over the July 4 weekend.
“As OPEC+ met over the weekend and saw a heated disagreement about raising oil production, WTI crude oil surged in Monday evening electronic trading to nearly $77 per barrel,” the blog post said. “This was due to higher demand and a lack of additional supply from OPEC amidst a mountain of controversy on how to respond to the market. For now, with imbalances in supply and demand continuing, motorists will continue digging deeper to pay for gasoline as prices are likely headed nowhere but up until global supply starts to catch up with the surge in demand.”
The median price for gasoline is $2.99 a gallon, a four-cent increase, which is also the most common price encountered by motorists. The most expensive states for gasoline were California, Hawaii, and Washington, while the cheapest were Mississippi, Louisiana, and South Carolina.
Gas prices traditionally rise in the summer, mostly because demand is higher, with people traveling more. This year is different from most, with the U.S. beginning to emerge from the pandemic, when a crash in demand led to unusual lows in demand and gas prices. In addition, the use of “summer-blend gasoline” also usually causes prices to rise in the summer months.
“During the summer, there are government regulations that mandate we use cleaner-burning fuel to help lower emissions from all the cars burning gasoline,” the GasBuddy website said in an earlier commentary.
“In the warmer months, gasoline has a greater chance of evaporating from your car’s fuel system. This can produce additional smog and increased emissions. Refiners reduce the chance of gas evaporation in your car during the summer by producing gasoline blends that have lower Reid vapor pressure (RVP), or lower volatility.”
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.