SAN DIEGO — California and San Diego set new records for the average cost of a gallon of gas Friday, and experts say drivers should brace for the high prices to continue.
Across the state, the average cost of a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline was $4.793, according to AAA. That’s the highest it has ever been in California.
San Diego County also broke its previous high mark, moving to a record $4.812 on average. San Diego has set and then broken new local records repeatedly over the last several weeks.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine is the latest factor driving an increase in prices, experts say. Russia is the world’s third-largest producer of petroleum. Officials fear that Russia could withhold crude oil in response to sanctions, and the war could also generally interfere with the flow of resources out of the country.
“As the conflict escalates with more sanctions and retaliatory actions, the oil markets will likely respond by continuing to increase the price of crude oil to reflect more risk of disruption to tight global oil supplies,” AAA wrote in its gas price blog Thursday.
As the Los Angeles Times reports, California doesn’t import any oil directly from Russia, but the absence of such a major exporter will increase global demand from other countries, which could affect California prices in turn.
Gas prices were surging even before Russia’s invasion, though, and there are reasons beyond the geopolitical strife that Californians are seeing such high totals at the pump. Global supply of oil has been tight throughout the stop-and-start economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
As AAA explains, “moderating winter weather and optimism over a potential fading of the omicron variant have led to an increase in gas demand.” Many more drivers want to fuel up but production hasn’t met that demand, leading to higher costs.
There’s also California’s policies: The state has a Cap-and-Trade program that requires big greenhouse gas emitters – like oil and gas refineries – to offset their emissions by purchasing carbon credits. That cost is passed on to drivers. The state requires specific blends of gasoline to minimize pollution, which are more expensive. And there’s the taxes — California’s gas tax is second-highest in the nation at 51.1 cents for each gallon.
Added to the state’s relative geographic isolation from oil-producing areas, Californians face a slew of factors that will keep gas pricy for the foreseeable future.
Here is some advice for saving more on filling up, courtesy of AAA, who have a complete list of gas-saving tips on their website:
- Both acceleration and deceleration waste fuel. Try to drive at a constant speed and avoid tailgating.
- Use cruise control when possible. The small, more precise adjustments made by the car’s cruise control system will keep your speed constant and save you fuel.
- Some credit cards offer gas savings when using the card for purchases.
- Choose to pay in cash if there is an extra charge to use a credit card.
- Properly inflated tires can improve gas mileage by more than 3% per tire. Check your tire pressure at least once a month and compare it with the recommended pressure listed in your owners manual and on the placard in your car door.
- On large SUVs and minivans, remove unneeded third-row seating. Some third-row seats weigh over 100 pounds. This is extra weight your engine has to deal with, which can waste gas.
Nexstar Media Wire’s Alix Martichoux contributed to this report.