Students Adjust to Record High Gas Prices

Ellery Law, Staff Writer

Recently, gasoline prices have reached record highs, causing financial pain throughout pumps all over the world. California has reached the highest gasoline prices in the country ranging from $5.69 per gallon and $6.21 per diesel gallon. Cadence Ast, a junior at South, explained, “My tank is nearly $90 dollars now. They’re ridiculous prices especially for high schoolers.” Although two questions remain: what is causing gasoline prices to skyrocket? Will we see the slightest bit of relief anytime soon? 

To begin, in March 2020 the United States faced the first outbreak of COVID-19. This caused millions of Americans to take shelter in their homes. In addition, many Americans avoided traveling to places like the grocery store or restaurants. This chain reaction led to the demand for gasoline sharply plummeting — in April 2020, gasoline averaged at $1.94 per gallon. As the year passed on and COVID-19 cases generally declined,people started getting out of their houses again and gasoline increased to $2.82, a 45% increase from April 2020.

In addition, OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) and Russia significantly cut production by 10 million barrels. In a press release, Patrick DeHaan, the Head of Petroleum Analysis at Gasbuddy, said, “We’re nearing pre-COVID levels for consumption, but production is still lagging. OPEC didn’t start increasing production until July 2021. They were already too late — they were severely behind the curve.” Challenged by increasing consumption, OPEC will continue to attempt to balance production rates in hope to settle the strict demand for fuel. 

On March 11, 2022, US sanctions on Russia faced immediate and significant impacts throughout the global market. For example, Benchmark US crude oil prices rose from $3.31 to $109.33 per barrel. As a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the US also put a ban on Russian oil imports; this not only makes it difficult for other countries to purchase oil from Russia but this also affects the flow of the global market. President Joe Biden has faced extreme criticism for cutting off sanctions with Russia, many Americans claim Biden is not doing enough to improve the oil and gas conditions. Although, a recent study from March 4, 2022 shows the US is producing 11.6 million barrels per day, a 6% increase from 2020.

Fortunately, drivers may see a sign of relief in the upcoming months. For example, Biden has established a deal with Venezuela stating that they will import oil and fuel to the US instead of Russia. Economists hope this will allow the headline rate to decrease by 5.5% by September. If the headline rate successfully decreases, drivers will see prices back to below $4 per gallon. South students will be able to obtain a sense of relief and return to their regular driving routines, although shorter drives and carpooling are still great alternatives for teenagers.

Senior Matthew Mahan said the gas price hike has hit his family hard. His mother currently isn’t working because of a medical problem, so the family tries to save on gas when they can. “I have to carpool with my parents’ car…we’ve just been cutting back on our vehicles,” he said.