Average pump prices in the U.S. are now $4.173 per gallon, the highest level in records going back to 2000, according to auto club AAA. Government data going back to 1990 show prices have never been higher than they are now. In California, the most expensive U.S. state for drivers, prices have surged to $5.444 a gallon.
Record pump prices pose a major challenge for U.S. President Joe Biden, whose attempts to cap gasoline costs and rein in inflation have so far had little impact. That means American households — already slammed by soaring food costs and electricity prices — are getting hit on all sides.
Prices are probably not coming down anytime soon. U.S. gasoline futures hit record highs on Monday as the market reckoned with lost Russian oil-product exports that could be cemented by a formal ban. Surges in futures markets tend to precede pump-price gains by a few weeks.
Russian oil made up only about 3% of all the crude shipments that arrived in the U.S. last year, data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration show. But when also including other petroleum products, like unfinished fuel oil that can be used as a feedstock to produce gasoline and diesel, Russia accounted for about 8% of the U.S.’s 2021 petroleum imports.
“Product markets are even tighter than crude markets. Russia is a major product exporter and those have been hit even harder than crude,” said John Auers, executive vice president of Turning Mason.