AAA: Rising crude oil demand, Russia and Ukraine tensions driving up gas prices

AAA said gas prices could potentially reach $4 in Virginia.
Published: Feb. 23, 2022 at 4:17 PM EST|Updated: Feb. 23, 2022 at 5:12 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Anne Threat’s commute from her home in Emporia to work is becoming a pain at the pump as gas prices skyrocket across the country.

“The gas prices is outrageous,” she said. “It’s really rough, especially when you’re by yourself trying to survive and keep food in your table.”

Threat is mindful of the soaring price tags and the financial impacts they could have on drivers.

“You can’t go nowhere like you used to go,” she said. “It’s only work and home.”

As gas prices skyrocket in Virginia and across the country, AAA believes there’s a chance the price tag could climb even higher as travel season approaches.

AAA spokesperson Morgan Dean said the average gas price in Richmond is $3.38, which is up 81 cents from what drivers in the city were paying last year.

In Virginia, the average price is up to $3.40 as the price tag for the national average climbs to $3.53.

Dean said around the country, drivers are paying 89 cents more at the pump than what they were last year.

“These are some of the most expensive prices that we have paid since back in 2014,” he said.

Dean said this is driven by two factors that involve crude oil.

The first involves a rising demand to buy crude oil, driving the price tag for barrels above $90.

“There’s a lot of feeling among investors, and a lot of countries out there trying to get their economies back to pre-pandemic,” he said. “We see a lot of economies ramping back up closer to where they were in 2019.”

Tensions between Russia and Ukraine could also put pressure on investors in the market, driving prices up even further according to Dean.

“It tends to push up prices over fear that this tension might create a door closing for some supplies coming from Ukraine or Russia in reaction to some of the sanctions or other places,” he said.

With travel season around the corner, Dean said this could also drive up the price at the pump.

“There’s a very good chance we could see prices climb up to the $4 range,” Dean said.

“It’s going to go higher? Oh my God. I don’t know how people are going to make it,” said Threat.

Drivers like Anne are looking for some much-needed relief on their wallets.

“I hope things get better for us in America and everywhere else too because everybody is suffering all behind this,” she said.

As experts monitor the situation between Russia and Ukraine, Dean also said they’re also keeping an eye on conversations between the U.S. and Iran.

Dean said if this goes through, Iran can start selling crude oil to the U.S. Dean also adds that Iran has a lot of stores of crude oil and if this is on the market for the U.S., it could help drive prices for gas down.

AAA also has the following tips for drivers on how to save gas:

  • Get your vehicle checked out. Perform regular car maintenance at the intervals recommended by the vehicle manufacturer in the owner’s manual or as indicated by the in-car maintenance reminder system. Did you delay regular maintenance during the pandemic because you were driving less? Now is the time to get it looked at. Find a AAA Approved Auto Repair Facility here.
  • Keep tires properly inflated. Under-inflated tires can decrease your gas mileage by approximately 3 percent. Not to mention, properly inflated tires are safer and last longer. Check pressure in all four tires every two weeks with an accurate, hand-held air pressure gauge.
  • Know your octane. Do not purchase mid-grade or premium gas unless your owner’s manual specifically recommends it. According to AAA research, Americans waste more than $2.1 billion annually on premium gas in vehicles designed to run on regular fuel. AAA found no benefit to using premium gas instead of regular-grade fuel. At the time of the study, 75% of U.S. drivers owned a vehicle that required only regular gasoline.
  • Avoid idling. Idling gets zero miles per gallon. Letting your vehicle idle for more than 10 seconds uses more gas than shutting it off and restarting. Don’t start your car until you are ready to go. The engine actually warms up more quickly once the car is operating, and will stay warm after stopping. Avoid drive-up windows - park and go inside instead.
  • Observe the speed limit. Gas mileage decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. Each 5 mph you drive over 60 mph is like paying an additional $0.15 per gallon of gas. Using cruise control on the highway helps you maintain a constant speed and, in most cases, will save gas.
  • Drive sensibly. Aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration and braking) wastes gas. It can lower your gas mileage by 33 percent at highway speeds and by 5 percent around.
  • Consolidate trips. Combining errands into one trip saves you time and money. Several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as a longer multi-purpose trip covering the same distance when the engine is warm. With a little planning, you can avoid retracing your route and reduce the distance you travel as well. You’ll not only save fuel, but also reduce wear and tear on your car.
  • Minimize drag. Drag reduces fuel efficiency. Driving with the windows open, using roof- or rear-mounted racks and carrying heavy loads increase vehicle drag. A roof rack or carrier provides additional cargo space and may allow you to meet your needs in a smaller, more fuel efficient car. However, a loaded roof rack can decrease your fuel economy by 5 percent. Reduce aerodynamic drag and improve your fuel economy by using a removable rack and placing items inside the trunk whenever possible. Avoid carrying unneeded items, especially heavy ones. An extra 100 pounds in the trunk reduces a typical car’s fuel economy by 1-2 percent.

Copyright 2022 WWBT. All rights reserved.

Send it to 12 here.

Want NBC12’s top stories in your inbox each morning? Subscribe here.