How Did Gas Prices Get So High?

As costs at the pump soar higher and higher, the chariot takes a look back at how we got here.


Matthew Grabowski, staff Reporter

     It’s no secret that gas prices have been on a painful and expensive rise recently. It’s hard to find a shortage of complaints online and in person about the wallet-draining cost per gallon of gasoline. These grievances are coming from indeed record costs. According to the American Automobile Association, the average price per gallon of gas in Oakland country is $5.29 as of June 21, 2022. The highest prices before then have reached $4.10 on July 17, 2008. However, it’s also important and almost impossible to ignore the massive changes around the globe since the high prices 14 years ago. 

     Gasoline is produced using crude oil, which most people imagine as a dark black liquid stored in barrels. It is found in some places in the U.S., though more of it is drilled internationally in the middle east, Venezuela, and the arctic among other areas. It’s an essential ingredient in producing all types of fuel for combustion vehicles. The result of this means when oil prices go up, gas prices go up. Coincidentally, one of the world’s largest oil producers is Russia, a country that has not been in a great economic status due to sanctions from many nations regarding its invasion of Ukraine. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Russia imported eight percent of America’s oil in 2021. These sanctions have impaired America’s ability to purchase crude oil from Russia completely. This is one of the reasons that gas prices have increased, but it isn’t the only one.

     When the pandemic of COVID-19 hit America in the spring of 2020, the country went into a lockdown. That meant almost nobody was leaving their homes and more importantly, driving. This massive drop in motor vehicle use made gasoline less necessary. The reduction in travel, according to the Energy Information Administration, even made oil companies start losing money. Not only did this result in the closing of wells and laying off of workers, but also put the industry sort of on edge. Companies, even after prices have retired to profitable amounts, are nervous to open up wells and hire more workers. Oil price crashes aren’t uncommon, and because of that large oil companies aren’t sure that reinstating pre-COVID levels of production could be a good move with how quickly prices can fluctuate with world events. 

     It’s clear between these two major influences on oil prices at the moment that oil isn’t only affected by the standard economic principles like supply and demand, but directly influenced by global political events. Anything major that happens internationally will most likely affect oil prices in some way or another. Whether it’ll be a conflict like the Russian invasion of Ukraine or the COVID-19 pandemic, an event will likely affect the cost of oil and gas. Although this is the case now, it may soon change with the growing popularity and desire for electric vehicles, especially in the current state of expensive gasoline. Overall, oil’s influence is one of the largest factors in global affairs, but the fuel source’s properties, price, and necessity may soon change.