Gas prices were already high, but overnight they went up 11 cents, approaching the $4 per-gallon average nationwide.
The national average for a gallon of regular gasoline rose to $3.84 on Friday, up from $3.73 on Thursday, according to AAA. That comes after another 11-cent increase between Monday and Thursday.
Prices averaged $3.57 a week ago and $3.42 a month ago, the organization said.
Gas prices topping $4 per gallon by Memorial Day had been predicted prior to Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Already, the average price per gallon in California has surpassed $5 at $5.01, the most expensive market in the U.S., AAA said.
The average price for a gallon of regular gasoline in San Francisco hit the $5 mark Thursday – the first time a U.S. city has hit an average that high, said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at fuel-savings app GasBuddy.
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Several other states have already surpassed the average $4 per gallon, according to AAA:
- Hawaii ($4.66)
- Oregon ($4.28)
- Nevada ($4.29)
- Washington ($4.22)
- Alaska ($4.18)
- Illinois ($4.10)
- New York ($4.05)
- Pennsylvania ($4)
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The last time average national gas prices were this high? July 2008 during the Great Recession when prices hit about $4.10 per gallon – both AAA and GasBuddy say – when economic growth briefly outpaced oil production, which drove oil prices to $145 a barrel in July 2008. Oil prices cratered to $40 a barrel in December 2008.
A national average of $4 per gallon could happen “in the next week or two,” De Haan said, during a question-and-answer session on Facebook Live.
GasBuddy, which through its app provides real-time gas price information for more than 150,000 stations nationwide, has the national average a bit lower than AAA, at $3.78 per gallon, De Haan said, but that’s up 20 cents from a week ago.
And De Haan has seen no sign of price gouging on the part of station owners.
“I can see that wholesale gas prices are up 12 cents a gallon today,” he said. “So that is how we can tell you that prices are going to continue to go up. … I would say that probably 99.999% of stations are simply passing along the price increase.”
Consumers may be able to withstand higher gas prices, for while at least, until the national average reaches $4.50 or $5, he said. “Because of us coming out of the pandemic, Americans still have pent-up demand for getting out,” he said. As mask mandates are lifted, “that may embolden more people to travel,” he said.
Follow Mike Snider on Twitter: @mikesnider.