Gas prices climb to highest level in more than 7 years as oil surges above $90

A gas station in Los Angeles on December 10, 2021.

FREDERIC J. BROWN | AFP | Getty Images

Gas prices hit their highest level in more than seven years on Friday, on the heels of the U.S. oil benchmark topping $90 a barrel for the first time since 2014.

The national average for a gallon of gasoline stood at $3,423 on Friday, according to AAA, slightly surpassing the previous high of $3,422 on Nov. 8.

Friday’s price means consumers are now paying the most at the pump since Sept. 10, 2014, according to AAA data. The national average was $2.44 a year ago.

Rapidly rising prices are contributing to inflation fears across the economy and creating a headache for the Biden administration.

“Gasoline prices at the pump are on the rise. We are working to bring them down, but they are on the rise,” President Joe Biden said on Friday amid a general rise in prices for consumers.

Biden did not elaborate on how the administration is tackling high prices at the pump. In November, the White House said it would tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve in a coordinated move alongside other countries to try to ease the burden on consumers.

Oil prices fell in late November and into December, but this was mainly driven by fears that the Covid omicron variant would depress demand.

Once it became clear that the variant would not have as much of an impact as initially feared, oil prices reversed course and started to rise again. WTI is now more than $10 higher than it was in November – when the SPR release was announced.

With calls for $100 oil, said Patrick De Haan of GasBuddy, prices at the pump will come under upward pressure.

“It’s going to be a potentially more expensive year than expected,” he said, adding that the national average could top $4 a gallon by Memorial Day.

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect that the national average gasoline price a year ago was $2.44 per gallon.

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