Prices for gasoline in one of nation’s major cities reached an all-time on Thursday— the highest average price ever recorded in the United States, according to fuel savings platform GasBuddy.
Average prices for the fuel in the San Francisco metro area reached a new all-time high of $4.75 a gallon, breaching the previous record of $4.743 that was set in 2012, GasBuddy reported Thursday.
““The Bay Area just recorded the nation’s highest ever average price of gasoline in the United States.””
— Patrick DeHaan, GasBuddy
“The Bay Area just recorded the nation’s highest ever average price of gasoline in the United States,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysts at GasBuddy. “Thanks to myriad challenges, derived from the COVID-19 pandemic, the average fillup now costs motorists in the Bay Area nearly $62.”
That’s a nearly 65% premium to the average price in the cheapest U.S. city, Lawton, Oka., where the average is at $2.86 a gallon, he said.
GasBuddy attributes the move higher for gasoline prices in the area mainly to heavy rains, which led to some refinery outages, as well as the highest oil prices in over seven years “due to a developing energy crunch,” and a climb in demand that has surpassed global oil supplies.
U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude
saw its front-month futures contract settled at $84.65 a barrel on Tuesday, the highest settlement price since Oct. 13, 2014, according to Dow Jones Market Data. Also on Tuesday, gasoline futures
settled at $2.517 a gallon, the highest price since Sept. 30, 2014.
In January, GasBuddy predicted a 2021 peak for San Francisco prices in the $3.85 to $4.25 range, but to see prices nearly 90 cents higher than the low side of that range offers a “sign of how challenging a year it’s been to anticipate all the wildcards that have led San Francisco and, potentially, more areas of California, to rise to record levels,” De Haan told MarketWatch.
When retail gasoline prices rose to similar high levels in 2012, that was a temporary situation brought on by a refinery fire, he said. “My concern here is that even after refineries get back online after a deluge of rain, prices may remain near or at record levels thanks to the continued rise of the price of oil.”
“The pain at the pump has never been this bad,” but prices could eventually rise to nearly $5 per gallon in the Bay Area if oil production doesn’t catch up to the global rise in demand, he said. And a further price rise ahead of the holidays could lead to a “record high starting point for 2022,” he added.
On Thursday, the nation’s average price for regular gasoline stood at $3.388 a gallon, up 21 cents from last month and up nearly $1.25 from a year ago, GasBuddy data show. The highest recorded average for the U.S. as a whole was set on July 16, 2008 at $4.103.
Still, San Francisco’s record gasoline prices aren’t anywhere near as bad as the fuel’s price in Hong Kong, where the average is approaching $10 a gallon, according to GasBuddy.