By Tom Ozimek
The average price of regular-grade gasoline spiked 33 cents over the past two weeks to $4.71 per gallon, according to the Lundberg Survey, which comes as some analysts predict prices will climb above $6 a gallon by the end of the summer.
Industry analyst Trilby Lundberg of the Lundberg Survey said on May 22 that the price jump comes amid higher crude oil costs and tight gasoline supplies.
Nationwide, the highest average price for regular-grade gas was in the San Francisco Bay Area, at $6.20 per gallon, according to the survey, while the lowest average was in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at $3.92 per gallon.
Separate data from the American Automobile Association (AAA) showed that, in the week between May 16 and May 23, the national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline increased by 11 cents to $4.60.
AAA said in a statement that the current supply and demand dynamic, “combined with volatile crude prices, will likely continue to keep upward pressure on pump prices.”
Andrew Gross, the national spokesman for AAA, told Fox News in a recent interview that he expects gasoline prices to climb further with Memorial Day weekend and the summer peak driving season fast approaching.
Data from GasBuddy indicates that the national average price of gasoline in the United States on May 22 was at $4.57 per gallon, up 10.5 cents from a week ago, according to Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy.
De Haan predicted in a recent Twitter post that U.S. gasoline prices this coming Memorial Day weekend could be not just higher than any other Memorial Day but a full $1 per gallon higher than the previous Memorial Day record of $3.99 per gallon set in 2014.
Another dire gas price prediction came in a note from JPMorgan analysts, who on May 17 said prices could surge another 37 percent by August to an estimated national average of $6.20 per gallon.
“Typically, refiners produce more gasoline ahead of the summer road-trip season, building up inventories,” said Natasha Kaneva, head of global commodities research at JPMorgan. Since mid-April, however, “gasoline inventories have fallen counter seasonally and today sit at the lowest seasonal levels since 2019,” she added.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) said in its most recent Short-Term Energy Outlook that global oil inventory levels in April in developed countries stood at 2.63 billion barrels, up marginally from February, when they fell to their lowest level since April 2014.
EIA said that the Russia–Ukraine conflict has injected greater volatility into oil markets.
“Sanctions on Russia and other independent corporate actions contributed to falling oil production in Russia and continue to create significant market uncertainties about the potential for further oil supply disruptions. These events occurred against a backdrop of low oil inventories and persistent upward oil price pressures,” EIA said.
Oil prices surged above $130 per barrel in March over concerns of disrupted supplies from Russia, though they have since fallen.
Brent crude futures rose by 1.32 cents cents to $113.82 a barrel on the morning of May 23, while the U.S. benchmark WTI crude advanced by 1.24 cents to $111.52.
EIA predicts Brent will average $103 per barrel in the second half of 2022, before falling to $97 per barrel in 2023.
“Because oil inventories are currently low, we expect downward oil price pressures will be limited and market conditions will exist for significant price volatility,” EIA noted.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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