Gas prices are likely to reach a national average of $3 per gallon by Memorial Day, according to one analyst, but President Joe Biden is not the reason why.
The average price per gallon in the United States as of Friday morning is $2.76, up 29.5 cents from a month ago, according to Gas Buddy. Gas cost an average of $2.36 per gallon when the year began and prices have increased in four consecutive months, Gas Buddy said.
Federal data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration show gas prices have mostly been steadily increasing since they bottomed out in early May.
Today’s gas prices are higher than they’ve been in the last 18 months, but they fall in line with various points of Donald Trump’s presidency from 2016 to 2020, according to PolitiFact.
Here’s what to know about the increases at the pump and why prices may continue to rise.
Production of oil
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) agreed Thursday not to increase the level of oil production through April, except for in Russia and Kazakhstan.
The organization had agreed last April to cut 10 million barrels per day of oil production. The extension of these cuts is a large reason why Patrick De Haan, a Gas Buddy analyst, expects prices to reach an average $3 per gallon by Memorial Day.
“Extending the production cuts maintains a growing imbalance between demand and supply, and puts more pressure on oil prices to rise, should global demand continue to recover,” De Haan said Thursday. “A continued recovery seems likely, led by American motorists filling their tanks at the fastest pace since the pandemic began.”
Gas has not reached $3 per gallon since 2014, according to Gas Buddy. It was at its highest during Trump’s presidency in 2018, when it reached an average of $2.97 per gallon.
AAA expects the national average to continue to rise due to a combination of “rising crude prices, tightening gas supplies and increased gas demand.”
Last month’s winter storm took out 26 refineries in the U.S., which also played a major role in the recent increase, according to AAA.
Production issues — not President Biden — are continuing to affect prices at the pump, De Haan tweeted Thursday.
“Unlike state owned oil companies, Biden has no say to cut or raise production, it’s purely market based,” he said. “Also, pipelines don’t produce oil, and there is plenty of capacity. And last, no oil company is looking for new leases, so that’s not an impact either. Will be down road.”
Supply and demand
Gas prices often increase as demand increases, according to the Energy Information Administration. As the economy has slowly recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a growing demand for gas, PolitiFact said.
Demand for gas is at its highest since the COVID-19 pandemic began, De Haan said this week.
But what about Biden’s decision to pull the U.S. from the Keystone XL pipeline? The pipeline was expected to bring oil 1,200 miles from Alberta, Canada, to Nebraska, according to the BBC, but most of that oil would have been exported out of the country, PolitiFact notes.
“Revoking it does nothing to today’s balance of supply and demand,” Mark Finley, a fellow at the Center for Energy Studies at Rice University, told PolitiFact.
Least expensive markets on average, according to AAA
Mississippi: $2.42 per gallon
Louisiana: $2.45 per gallon
Texas: $2.48 per gallon
Missouri: $2.49 per gallon
South Carolina: $2.50 per gallon
Most expensive markets on average, according to AAA
California: $3.71 per gallon
Hawaii: $3.49 per gallon
Washington: $3.14 per gallon
Nevada: $3.07 per gallon
Arizona: $2.99 per gallon
Mike Stunson covers real-time news for McClatchy. He is a 2011 Western Kentucky University graduate who has previously worked at the Paducah Sun and Madisonville Messenger as a sports reporter and the Lexington Herald-Leader as a breaking news reporter. Support my work with a digital subscription