The average price of gasoline has jumped above $4 a gallon in Austin for the first time as fuel costs reach record highs in Texas and nationwide — and prices are expected to keep climbing.
The surge comes amid tight supplies, strong demand and the transition to more expensive summer blends, industry analysts said.
Austin gas prices have risen 13 cents per gallon in the past week and currently average $4.11 per gallon for regular unleaded, according to industry website GasBuddy.com, which tracks fuel prices nationwide.
That's the highest average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gas ever recorded in Austin, said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy.
But it's a record that probably won't last long.
Prices for regular unleaded gasoline could be closer to $5 per gallon than $4 later this week, as demand continues to edge higher and inventories of both gasoline and diesel decline, DeHaan said.
Adding to that is the approach of Memorial Day weekend, which marks the start of the summer driving season and further raises consumption.
"While the increases may start to slow in the days ahead as pump prices catch up to oil, there isn't much reason to be optimistic that we'll see a plunge anytime soon," DeHaan said.
The lowest price per gallon in Austin was $3.79 a gallon, while the most expensive was $4.59, the latest survey showed. Statewide, the lowest price was $3.19 per gallon, and the highest was $5.70.
The statewide gas price average in Texas is $4.10 for a gallon of regular unleaded, according to auto club AAA Texas. That's 20 cents more than a week ago and $1.38 more per gallon than a year ago.
"Those filling their tanks last week saw another jolt at the pump, as both gasoline and diesel prices continued their multiweek rally," DeHaan said. "New records continued to be set on a near daily basis."
Of the major metropolitan areas surveyed in Texas, drivers in El Paso are paying the most on average at $4.23 per gallon, while drivers in Amarillo are paying the least at $3.91, AAA Texas said.
The national average price of gas has risen 15 cents per gallon in the past week to $4.46. That is an increase of 39 cents per gallon from a month ago and is up $1.43 from a year ago, according to GasBuddy's data, which is compiled from more than 11 million weekly price reports from more than 150,000 gas stations nationwide.
Meanwhile, the national average for diesel fuel set a record Sunday, reaching $5.57. One year ago the price was $3.17.
The record pump prices are the result of the higher cost of crude oil, analysts said.
Fear of a global energy supply disruption due to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine outweighs the demand concerns prompted by the impact of COVID-19 on China’s economy.
The cost of a barrel of crude oil continues to exceed $100 as the market weighs the European Union imposing possible new sanctions on Russian oil. That could spark retaliation by Russia, leading to more market disruption and uncertainty.
On Monday, oil prices were about $109 per barrel.
"Pump prices will likely face upward pressure if gasoline stocks continue to decrease and oil prices remain above $105 per barrel," said Adrienne Woodland, AAA spokesperson.
Experts with AAA offered some advice to conserve fuel:
Gas consumption increases after a car exceeds 50 miles per hour, so drivers should slow down when they can.
AAA also advises motorists to conserve fuel by mapping their routes, avoiding peak traffic times, using cruise control when possible and combining multiple errands into one trip.
Gradual acceleration is more fuel-efficient than a quick burst of speed from stomping on the gas pedal, and drivers also should avoid idling the engine.
In addition, lighter-weight cars use less fuel, they said, so unload what you can. Finally, experts advise keeping your car tuned up and monitoring the air pressure in your tires.
This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: Average gas price in Austin jumps above $4 a gallon for first time