Summer driving season isn’t the only thing driving the price of gas back up

California has seen gas prices rocket back over $5 per gallon on average as the national average hit $3.60 on Tuesday. Rising oil prices due to trouble abroad and other reasons were cited for the increase.

Average prices have increased by almost 50 cents in California and just over 20 cents nationally in a month’s time, according to AAA. Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia have all seen increases of 23, 27, and 21 cents in the same span of time.

“Renewed Ukrainian attacks on Russia’s oil infrastructure and increasing tension in the Middle East spiked oil prices recently,” said Andrew Gross, an AAA spokesman. “And with the cost of oil accounting for roughly 60% of what we pay at the pump, there will likely be some upward pressure on prices.”

The United States recently urged Ukraine to halt attacks on Russian oil infrastructure in fear of the rise in crude oil prices being seen now. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin wanted Ukraine to target military targets instead to reduce the effects on energy markets.

Patrick De Haan, GasBuddy’s head of petroleum analysis, cited “extensive refinery maintenance on the West Coast” as another reason for the rise. De Haan expects price increases to continue into the summer, though he does see a “glimmer of hope” if a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas is reached.

Gas prices have risen since the start of 2024 and are now nearing the averages of September 2023, when national prices started to dip. However, gas prices are far from 2022 levels, which saw the national average price peak near $5 a gallon.

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Residents in the Washington metropolitan area may find a reprieve from high gas prices in Eastern Maryland counties such as Cecil, Kent, and Caroline, which have prices in the $3.50 range, but Southern Virginia sports even lower prices, with prices in the $3.20 range.

Consumers can also combat increasing prices by choosing to go to the pumps early in the week, when demand for gas is generally lower, and avoiding premium gas.

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