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Prices At The Pump Continue To Rise As Crude Remains Volatile

Gasoline prices in the United States climbed higher Monday, despite crude oil’s brief retreat under $100 per barrel as bearish sentiments emerged over China’s intensifying COVID lockdown.

The national average price per gallon of regular gasoline climbed to $41.2 Monday, according to AAA, up from $4.09 the previous Monday and up from $2.09 a year ago.

Californians continue to pay the highest price at the pump, around $5.69 per gallon.

“As long as the price of [crude] oil stays elevated, the price at the pump will struggle to fall,” AAA spokesperson Andrew Gross said in a Monday statement, adding that “Consumers may be catching a little break from March’s record-high prices, but don’t expect any dramatic drops.”

This summer, the Energy Information Administration expects retail gas prices to average $3.84 per gallon, up from $3.06 per gallon last summer but significantly lower than the past month’s national average. That forecast gives American drivers some hope for relief as the summer driving season prepares to kick off. 

Prices of crude oil, the key input for gasoline, briefly fell below $100 on Monday as it became clear that China’s COVID lockdowns were intensifying and threatening consumption and demand. By 3:15pm EST, Brent prices had climbed back to $102.54, while WTI was still under $99. 

Crude oil prices, however, are set to remain highly volatile for the foreseeable future, with China’s COVID crackdown weighing against sanctions on Russia over its war on Ukraine and tight supply. 

“The roller coaster ride at the pump continues,” AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins said in a statement. “After rising two weeks ago, gas prices should remain tied to the price of oil, which was on its way back down last week. Based on wholesale and gasoline futures trends, gas prices could decline 5 to 10 cents, unless oil prices rebound again.”

By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com

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