Many around the United States are worried that the Russian war in Ukraine will raise prices at the pump, but so far, the cost of gas is holding steady.
According to Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, the national average for gas is only up one cent at $3.57 per gallon. The slight rise hints at Thursday’s demand for gasoline which was 49.6% higher than at the beginning of the month and the second-highest demand GasBuddy has ever recorded on a Thursday. According to AAA, the national average is the highest gas has been since 2014, when it peaked at $3.70 per gallon.
De Haan does predict that the national average has a good chance of reaching $4 per gallon but says so far, the conflict hasn’t impacted the gas price in America.
“Russia has not disrupted the oil flow outside their borders; exports have not been altered yet,” De Haan said Friday. “For motorists, it’s maybe a little bit of a sigh of relief that the escalations between and sanctions between Russia and the rest of the world have not yet hit energy. There could be escalation at any moment. But for now, oil prices are holding virtually steady.”
A team at Harvard found that Russia was the world’s third-largest oil exporter in 2019, accounting for 10.53% of total global exports. About 7% of U.S. crude oil in late 2021 came from Russia, according to Forbes. Europe is more reliant on Russian oil than Americans are.
“If Russia were to impede in some way their exports, we’re still probably looking at some of those apocalyptic (gas price) numbers,” De Haan said. “If Russia were to put the kibosh on all exports, we would be in pretty dire straits.”
A potential help to the extreme gas costs could be a new U.S. nuclear deal with Iran that would end sanctions and open their oil back to the global market. Yet that wouldn’t add up to what Russia produces.
Locally, Colorado gas prices raised quicker than the national average last summer due to gasoline inventories being stretched thin. De Haan’s theory is that more tourists than normal hit the region, inducing a more regional demand.
“That could happen again this summer, where there could be another disconnect, and there’s a lot of demand in the Rockies,” De Haan said. “Having said that, nothing I see now could disconnect Denver from what’s going on nationally or have Colorado experience more pain. But you know, if refinery maintenance goes long, or if there’s a big increase in demand again that summer, you can see that happen again.”
As of Friday, AAA lists Colorado’s average price at the pump at $3.37 per gallon.