Gas prices hit historic highs in Massachusetts amid uncertainty surrounding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and possible sanctions on Russian oil supplies. The average cost of regular unleaded gasoline in Massachusetts hit $4.16 a gallon on Monday — the highest price ever in the state for regular unleaded gasoline, according to Massachusetts spokeswoman Mary Maguire. AAA Northeast. The last time we saw $4 a gallon, Maguire said, was in July 2008 during the Great Recession.
The average price of regular unleaded gasoline increased by $0.54 from last week, $0.72 from last month and $1.48 from the same period last year , while the cost per gallon was $2.68. And while pump costs are rising across the country, the average gasoline price in Massachusetts is $0.10 higher than the national average.
As the crisis unfolds, prices are expected to continue to rise. We spoke with a few experts to find out where we could go from here – and to offer suggestions on how to stretch every gallon in the meantime.
What is the cause of the overvoltage?
When a major global oil producer is embroiled in a dispute, it sends shock waves through the oil and gasoline markets, resulting in higher prices at the pump. That’s exactly what’s happening right now, Maguire said, as oil and gas markets react to the volatile situation between Russia and Ukraine.
As the United States and NATO debate whether to impose sanctions on the Russian oil and gas industry, she said we will continue to see a significant increase in prices for these products.
How long will it last? How high will the prices go?
Maguire said Americans are facing a “double whammy”: a price spike happening at the same time as increased demand for travel. As pandemic restrictions ease, the weather improves, and gatherings such as graduations, barbecues, and other celebrations resume, more people are getting back in their cars to travel.
“The $0.45 increase in gasoline prices here in the United States over the past seven days represents the largest increase since the AAA has tracked domestic gasoline prices,” Maguire said. , adding that “the negative impact of these explosive prices on American consumers will only increase in the short term.”
In 2008, when economic growth outpaced oil production, prices soared to $145 a barrel. Right now we see around $130 a barrel. Maguire said as crude oil prices go up, so do prices at the pump.
According to Bill McKibben, author and environmentalist, the willingness of the American people to impose sanctions and support American policy could be key to whether gasoline prices continue to rise.
During World War II, he said, people made personal sacrifices like riding the bus instead of driving or carpooling in order to support US sanctions against Germany. But, McKibben said, Americans may be too “pampered” to make these kinds of changes in their daily lives. McKibben reflected on posters from World War II that had the slogan: “When you drive alone, you drive with Hitler.” He said the 3% to 4% of people driving electric vehicles could help make a difference by carpooling with other people.
Is there support for the United States to impose sanctions on Russian oil?
The oil market is a bull market with multiple sources of supply, including OPEC and Russia, according to Massachusetts Congressman Jake Auchincloss, who represents the 4th congressional district.
It’s hard to identify a direct cause and effect with so many sources in a global supply and demand market, Auchincloss said. The gasoline surge affects everyone’s wallet. He added: “This increase is really pinching people at the kitchen table. It takes away a big chunk of the wage gains we’ve seen, and it forces people to make painful trade-offs in how they consume.
Since oil is Russia’s main export, Auchincloss said, the United States must cut Vladimir Putin off from the fossil fuel industry.
“I think this will accelerate our transition to a clean energy economy,” Auchincloss said. This crisis will push Europe’s transition to energy independence, he added, and “just as we have used these sanctions to punish and isolate Russia, we must also ensure that we use sanctions as an exit ramp”. This means that if the sanctions work and Putin stops the war, the end result would protect Ukrainian civilians.
“It is our main objective to stop the violence and the suffering,” added Auchincloss.
Eighty percent of Americans who participated in a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll said they supported the United States no longer buying Russian oil, the majority of which said it would be worth paying more at the pump to support another democratic country.
Can we do anything to slow or stop the price rise?
AAA recommends these fuel saving tips:
- Use regular gasoline instead of premium. Switching to premium gasoline when your car doesn’t need it won’t improve fuel economy, but it will cost you more.
- Shop around to find the best gas prices in your area.
- Use points and rewards programs at places like Costco, BJ’s, and Stop and Shop
- Keep your vehicle in top condition with routine inspections and make sure your tires are properly inflated.
- Combine errands into one trip. You can plot your route in advance to minimize unnecessary turnarounds and backtracking.
- Drive slower on highways. Fuel economy peaks at around 80 km/h on most cars, then declines as speed increases. Reducing highway speed by 5-10 mph can increase fuel economy by up to 14%.
- Avoid excessive idling. A car engine idling for long periods uses more fuel than a hot engine that needs fuel to restart.
- If safe to do so, turn off your engine if you plan to stand still for more than a minute.
- Use the “fast pass” or “express” toll lanes to avoid unnecessary stops and slowdowns.
- Avoid peak times when you are able to plan around them.
- Anticipate road conditions: watch traffic ahead and “time” red lights to maintain momentum and avoid unnecessary stops and starts.