Gasoline prices in the United States have reached their highest seasonal levels since 2012, surprising many who expected relief at the pumps after the Labor Day weekend. As of September 5th, the national average for a gallon of regular-grade gasoline stands at $3.811. Although it represents a slight decline from previous days, it’s notably higher than the same time last year and is historically elevated for this season. This is the second-highest price for the first Tuesday in September since 1994, highlighting the unusual persistence of high gas prices.
The Energy Information Administration (EIA) had anticipated that pump prices would ease with the conclusion of the summer driving season. However, the report suggests that crude oil demand will remain high due to strong economic indicators in the United States, coupled with Saudi production cuts and other factors, leading to upward pressure on oil prices throughout the year.
Despite the hope for a decline in gas prices with the switch back to winter gasoline, external factors such as disturbances in the Persian Gulf could disrupt any potential decrease in the coming weeks, creating uncertainty for consumers.
One significant factor contributing to elevated gas prices is the extension of Saudi Arabia’s voluntary production cut of 1 million barrels per day until the end of December. This decision has driven up oil prices, with both West Texas Intermediate (WTI) and Brent crude prices experiencing notable increases this year.
Despite some predicting that gasoline demand would never fully recover after the COVID-19 pandemic, global demand reached an all-time high of 103 million barrels a day in June. Factors such as strong summer air travel, surging oil consumption in China, and better-than-expected economic growth have all contributed to this demand. Additionally, the U.S. oil rig count has fallen significantly this year, adding pressure to oil supplies.
The combination of reduced gasoline production, low U.S. gasoline inventories, and sustained demand has contributed to higher gasoline prices, and it remains uncertain whether prices will stabilize or continue to increase in the coming months.