For the first time in history, the average price for a gallon of unleaded gas in the United States rose above $5 nationally, as demand continues to increase for fuel.
According to AAA, the average price for a gallon of gas hit $5.004 on Saturday, with Californians paying an average of $6.43 a gallon at the higher end of the spectrum and Georgians paying $4.47 a gallon at the lowest average price point. This is up from $3.07 a year ago and one dollar over a national average of $4.00 a gallon that was reached 3 ½ weeks ago.
However, while many are continuing to be nervous about what they’re paying at the pump with current prices, experts are cautioning that consumers still may not have even seen the worst of it as the peak summer driving season approaches.
“I don’t think we’re far away,” Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, told CNBC about the highest prices. “I don’t think it would eclipse $5.50. I would say $5.25 is the top, but again, the market is unhinged.”
Some experts previously warned that prices could get even higher than that if things do not stabilize, which is unlikely as the U.S. already had a lower supply of oil before the pandemic, and sanctions on Russian energy have also tightened the supply on a global scale.
“There is a real risk the price could reach 6+ a gallon by August,” Natasha Kaneva, head of global oil and commodities research at JPMorgan said in May.
However, with prices at such a peak, even gas station owners are starting to get fed up, and one station in Amherst, Massachusetts has actually drained its tanks and refused to continue selling fuel in protest of prices that were reaching the $5 a gallon mark. The owner, Reynold Gladu, refused to continue adding to the struggle many are feeling at the pump, stating that after he was told the price had gone up $0.40 in less than 24 hours, he finally had enough.
Of course, prices in Massachusetts aren’t even the highest in the country. California has long had the highest gas prices, and while the state average is $6.43, a gas station in Mendocino, north of San Francisco, was charging $9.63 for regular, $9.72 for midgrade, $9.94 for premium and $9.30 for diesel one week ago.
According to Gas Buddy, the station is still charging those prices as of Saturday.