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SALT LAKE CITY — The average price of gas in the U.S. hit an all-time high on Wednesday of $4.57 per gallon as another inauspicious benchmark was reached — every state in the country is now averaging over $4 per gallon, according to data from AAA.
Utah hit its own all-time mark on Wednesday as well, with a gallon of regular now averaging almost $4.60 per gallon in the Beehive State.
AAA says historic price milestones are being driven primarily by the high cost of crude but other factors are exacerbating market pressures.
"The high cost of oil, the key ingredient in gasoline, is driving these high pump prices for consumers," Andrew Gross, AAA spokesperson, said in a statement. "Even the annual seasonal demand dip for gasoline during the lull between spring break and Memorial Day, which would normally help lower prices, is having no effect this year."
A seasonal fuel formula change is also playing a role in pushing gas costs up.
The switch to the more expensive summer blend of gasoline, which usually adds 7 to 10 cents per gallon depending on the market, is happening now, according to AAA. This switchover should be complete nationwide by early June. This summer blend switch is an annual event, AAA reports, and is unrelated to the Biden administration's announcement a few weeks ago to allow the higher ethanol E15 gas blend to remain on sale throughout the summer until September.
Nationally, gas is up 15 cents per gallon in the last week, over 50 cents per gallon in the last month, and is about $1.55 more per gallon than a year ago. Utah's average prices for a gallon of regular have risen about 10 cents in the last week, are up 11 cents in the last month and are currently about $1.25 per gallon more than the same time in 2021.
Memorial Day weekend, the traditional start of the summer travel season, is just weeks away, and Patrick De Hann, head of petroleum industry analyst group GasBuddy, predicts there is no relief in sight for the traveling public.
"Liquid fuels have turned into liquid gold, with prices for gasoline and diesel spiraling out of control with little power to harness them as the imbalance between supply and demand globally continues to widen with each passing day," De Hann said in a release. "Russia's oil increasingly remains out of the market, crimping supply while demand rebounds ahead of the summer driving season.
"There's little, if any, good news about fuel prices heading into summer, and the problem could become worse should we see an above average hurricane season, which could knock out refinery capacity at a time we badly need it as refined product inventories continue to plummet."
As of Wednesday, here are the average prices for a gallon of regular in select Utah metropolitan areas, according to AAA:
- Logan — $4.58.
- Ogden — $4.57.
- Provo-Orem — $4.57.
- Salt Lake City — $4.58.
- St. George — $4.73.