(The Hill) – Gas prices are likely to see another surge ahead of Memorial Day, as existing increases combine with the first summer driving season since 2019 without major COVID-19 restrictions.
On Tuesday, the national average for gas prices hit a new high, an unadjusted-for-inflation $4.37 per gallon, according to AAA. And in the run-up to Memorial Day weekend, gas prices are likely to increase, Devin Gladden, a spokesperson for AAA, told The Hill.
Russian ban proposal creates uncertainty
There are a few reasons for the likely hikes.
Gladden noted that the European Union’s proposal to ban imports of Russian oil has “created more volatility and uncertainty in the market” by tightening supplies.
Prices are now rising chiefly in reaction to that proposal.
Demand could rise post-lockdowns
Demand traditionally rises in the U.S. near Memorial Day, a three-day weekend that is the unofficial beginning of summer — when many drive to the beach and beyond with school out for the year.
This year could be a busier weekend than the last two years, when many were locked down due to the pandemic.
“Schools are out, students are also traveling. And … for the past two years in light of the pandemic, people haven’t been able to travel as often or frequently as they might have wanted to,” Gladden said.
Prices higher than 2021
On Memorial Day 2021, gas prices hit what was then a seven-year average high of $3.04, up from under $2 the previous year only months into the COVID-19 pandemic.
This year, prices will be even higher.
“This summer, later this spring, next few months, unless I wake up one morning and Vladimir Putin is not in charge of Russia, I think we’re going to be dealing with very escalated prices, escalating tensions and kind of a lot of impingement on spending power for consumers,” said Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis at IHS Markit’s oil price information service.