CLEVELAND — For the past six weeks, the national average price for a gallon of gas has increased and, as of late, Ohio has felt the brunt of it. The Buckeye State had the second-highest week-over-week price increase, jumping 14 cents in the Cleveland metropolitan statistical area.
According to AAA, gas prices are roughly 12 cents higher than last month and nearly a dollar more expensive than this point last year. The increases in fuel prices come at a time of year when gas prices typically fall.
Experts said the rising gas prices are due in large part to growing uncertainty in eastern Europe and rising tensions between Russia and Ukraine. Additionally, fierce winter weather storms over the past three weeks have also driven the price of heating oil higher.
“Russia is the second-largest producer of oil in the world and Ukraine is an important energy-distribution hub,” said Michael Goldberg, an associate professor at Case Western Reserve University. “For those folks who thought that their summer road trips might cost less, it’s probably going to cost more. Prices are high and they look like they might continue to go up even more.”
That uncertainty at the Russia-Ukraine border could have major implications on global markets.
“It’s unclear how all this is going to play out with Russian troops sitting on the Ukrainian border and Putin being somewhat unpredictable. Markets do not react well to that,” Goldberg said. “Many of our goods and services and the overall supply chain are very much impacted by energy prices, so the prices you are paying for your goods is impacted by the price that it costs to get your goods here.”
Refineries will begin to switch over to the most expensive summer blend of gasoline in the coming months. When coupled with increasing demand as the weather starts to warm, experts said it is entirely possible that gas prices exceed $4 per gallon around Memorial Day.
“Gas is gas. You’ve got to have it whether it's expensive or cheap,” said Jonathan Schwarz. “It’s not just the gas that’s going up. It’s inflation.”