Gas prices edge closer to $3 a gallon, hitting highest levels since pandemic began

National News

(NEXSTAR) — The average price of gasoline continued to rise last week, climbing 7.5 cents per gallon to $2.72, according to GasBuddy data. That’s the highest level the company has tracked since the pandemic began.

The national average price of diesel jumped 9.2 cents in the last week and stands at $2.93 per gallon.

“Gas prices continued to surge last week following cold-weather-related shutdowns in Texas, but … the impact from the cold has likely run its course. However, several other factors will rise in their influence on gas prices again, including the fact that gasoline demand continues…,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy.

“On the supply side, the number of oil rigs active in the U.S. stands nearly 50% lower than a year ago, which is a large factor driving prices up. To put it simply, demand is recovering much, much faster than oil production levels, which is why oil prices have soared. This week, OPEC will be meeting to hopefully increase oil production to temper the rise in prices, but will they increase oil production enough to match the growing appetite of a global economy that’s seen oil demand jump?” said De Haan.

Investors are betting the pandemic will soon be under control, according to CNN, and that should unleash pent-up demand for road trips, cruises, flights etc.

OPEC+ responded to historic low prices last year by slashing output by a record-shattering 9.7 million barrels per day. Sources with the cartel told Reuters last week that an output increase of half a million barrels per day beginning in April is possible without building up inventories. That increase would help members increase profits, and keep Texas fracking operations from increasing production after being sidelined by the drop in demand during the pandemic.

The average cost at the priciest 10% of stations stands at $3.50 per gallon, up 13 cents from a week ago, while the lowest 10% average $2.32 per gallon, up 11 cents from a week ago.

The states with the lowest average prices were Mississippi ($2.35), Louisiana ($2.37) and Texas ($2.39). The states with the highest prices were California ($3.67), Hawaii ($3.41) and Washington ($3.08).

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