AAA: Russia-Ukraine war continues to drive gas prices higher; record-breaking pump prices anticipated; tips for saving gas


News Journal



CINCINNATI — As the conflict between Russia and Ukraine continues, the price of crude oil continues to soar, leading to higher pump prices in the U.S and, AAA expects the upward current trend to continue in step.

The national average for a gallon of gas is $4.06, a staggering 45 cents more than a week ago, 62 cents more than a month ago and $1.30 more than a year ago. The national average has not been this high since July 2008, according to a news release from AAA.

While Ohio’s average hasn’t reach $4 yet, it is alarmingly close.

Locally, Ohio’s gas price average is $3.83. That is 50 cents more than a week ago, 57 cents more than a month ago and $1.13 more than this time last year.

Last week, the International Energy Agency (IEA) announced a coordinated release of crude oil from its 31 member countries’ strategic reserves, including the U.S., Germany, Canada, South Korea, and Mexico, to help counter the impact of rising crude prices.

On Friday, IEA said member states committed to releasing a total of 61.7 million bbl from their strategic reserves to reassure markets roiled by the fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This amount — half of which is expected to come from the U.S. — is the largest coordinated release since IEA was founded in 1974, according to AAA.

Despite this announcement, the impact on pricing has been limited given that the amount of oil planned for release is small in comparison to the amount that flows daily from Russia to other countries around the globe. According to IEA, Russia exports approximately 5 million b/d of crude oil, representing about 12% of its global trade.

According to new data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA), total domestic gasoline stocks decreased by 500,000 bbl to 246 million bbl last week.

Meanwhile, gasoline demand rose slightly from 8.66 million b/d to 8.74 million b/d. The increase in gas demand and a reduction in total supply contribute to rising pump prices but, increasing oil prices play the leading role in pushing gas prices higher.

State stats

The nation’s top 10 largest weekly increases: Rhode Island (+58 cents), Nevada (+57 cents), Connecticut (+56 cents), Kentucky (+56 cents), Alabama (+56 cents), West Virginia (+55 cents), Virginia (+55 cents), Massachusetts (+54 cents), New Hampshire (+52 cents) and New Jersey (+52 cents).

The nation’s top 10 most expensive markets: California ($5.34), Hawaii ($4.69), Nevada ($4.59), Oregon ($4.51), Washington ($4.44), Alaska ($4.39), Illinois ($4.30), Connecticut ($4.28), New York ($4.26) and Pennsylvania ($4.23).

Market dynamics

At the close of Friday’s formal trading session, WTI increased by $8.01 to settle at $115.68. Crude prices continue to surge in response to the conflict between Russia and Ukraine.

As the conflict continues, the oil markets will likely respond by increasing the price of crude oil to reflect more risk of disruption to tight global oil supplies this week. Additionally, EIA reported that total domestic crude stocks decreased by 2.6 million bbl last week to 413.4 million bbl.

The current stock level is approximately 15% lower than at the end of February 2021, contributing to pressure on domestic crude prices.

Gas-saving tips from AAA

• Get your vehicle checked out. Perform regular car maintenance at the intervals recommended by the vehicle manufacturer in the owner’s manual or as indicated by the in-car maintenance reminder system. Did you delay regular maintenance during the pandemic because you were driving less? Now is the time to get it looked at. Find a AAA Approved Auto Repair Facility here.

• Keep tires properly inflated. Under-inflated tires can decrease your gas mileage by approximately 3 percent. Not to mention, properly inflated tires are safer and last longer. Check pressure in all four tires every two weeks with an accurate, hand-held air pressure gauge.

• Know your octane. Do not purchase mid-grade or premium gas unless your owner’s manual specifically recommends it. According to AAA research, Americans waste more than $2.1 billion annually on premium gas in vehicles designed to run on regular fuel. AAA found no benefit to using premium gas instead of regular-grade fuel. At the time of the study, 70% of U.S. drivers owned a vehicle that required only regular gasoline.

• Avoid idling. Idling gets zero miles per gallon. Letting your vehicle idle for more than 10 seconds uses more gas than shutting it off and restarting. Don’t start your car until you are ready to go. The engine actually warms up more quickly once the car is operating, and will stay warm after stopping. Avoid drive-up windows – park and go inside instead.

• Observe the speed limit. Gas mileage decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. Each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.15 per gallon of gas. Using cruise control on the highway helps you maintain a constant speed and, in most cases, will save gas.

• Drive sensibly. Aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration and braking) wastes gas. It can lower your gas mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds and by 5 percent around town.

• Consolidate trips. Combining errands into one trip saves you time and money. Several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as a longer multi-purpose trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm. With a little planning, you can avoid retracing your route and reduce the distance you travel as well. You’ll not only save fuel, but also reduce wear and tear on your car.

• Minimize drag. Drag reduces fuel efficiency. Driving with the windows open, using roof- or rear-mounted racks and carrying heavy loads increase vehicle drag. A roof rack or carrier provides additional cargo space and may allow you to meet your needs in a smaller, more fuel efficient car. However, a loaded roof rack can decrease your fuel economy by 5 percent. Reduce aerodynamic drag and improve your fuel economy by using a removable rack and placing items inside the trunk whenever possible. Avoid carrying unnecessary items, especially heavy ones. An extra 100 pounds in the trunk reduces a typical car’s fuel economy by 1-2 percent.

• Use loyalty and membership programs to save. Many gas stations, grocery store and warehouse store offer savings on gasoline to their members.

Drivers can find current gas prices along their route with the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad, and Android. The app can also map a route, find discounts, book a hotel, and access AAA roadside assistance. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.

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