Have you seen how fast gas prices rose last week? New reports reveal that fuel stockpiles have dropped globally, and the problem is likely to get even worse over the next few weeks and months as demand continues to outstrip supplies amid OPEC+ production cuts.
Americans are now paying the highest prices for a gallon of gas in at least eight months. And, according to industry experts, they should brace for even more pain at the pump in August, with refineries closing for maintenance and domestic supplies drying up in many states. From now on, filling up your tank will be far more expensive, and there are many reasons contributing to that.
Now, a perfect storm has begun. Last week, prices at the pump jumped again overnight, and the outlook for the coming weeks and months doesn’t bring any relief for American drivers. On Saturday, the national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline surged to $3.75, according to the American Automobile Association. That marked the biggest one-day increase in a year and the highest average in about eight months.
The price of a gallon of gasoline is now 30 cents more expensive than in June, and that’s still a timid uptick compared to experts’ estimates of $5 per gallon by the fall, The shift is happening quickly. For instance, the more fuel-efficient premium gas has surged to nearly $4.50 — also a 30-cent increase from June. Gas prices are on track to reach levels last seen during the inflation peak of 2022, says the association’s spokesperson Daniel Armbruster. Both domestic and international producers are slashing production, but demand remains strong.
AAA analyst Robert Sinclair also came forward last week to inform the public that so far this year, global markets have lost almost 4 million barrels per day due to OPEC’s decision. Exports also cut into our supply at home. “We are exporting about two cargoes of gasoline (mostly from the Gulf Coast) for every cargo we import,” the expert added. “We are the supplier of choice for Latin America, which has no additional refining capacity coming up this year.”
The effect of this imbalance between supply and demand is going to be disastrous for U.S. motorists. As for the next couple of weeks, the experts noted that it’s possible Americans could be in for another 25-cent increase. From now on, gasoline price increases are expected to happen faster, and lower supplies indicate that there’s no relief in sight – at least until the end of 2023.
By the winter, the scenario could be far more chaotic as supply systems face increased vulnerability. Just as it happened before, we’re woefully unprepared for any sort of emergency or supply disruptions, and probably just a single extreme weather event away from seeing gas stations experience massive outages again. At this point, we can only hope for the best, but prepare for the worst because this is shaping up to be the worst oil crisis of modern times, and the consequences of it will be catastrophic.
Article and video cross-posted from Epic Economist.