A dip in gasoline demand provided drivers with a bit of stability at the pump, as the national average for a gallon rose less than three cents over the past week to reach $4.62. But this respite could be brief. Crude oil has moved above $115 a barrel due to fears of further global supply constraints caused by a European Union (EU) ban on Russian oil exports. And domestic gas demand may again start to climb as drivers fuel up for the three-month-long summer travel season, which began this Memorial Day weekend. AAA forecast nearly 35 million travelers hit the road for Memorial Day. It’s the highest number since 2019, despite record prices at the gas pump.
“So far, the pent-up urge to travel caused by the pandemic outweighs high pump prices for many consumers,” said Andrew Gross, AAA spokesperson. “But 67% of drivers recently surveyed told us they would change their driving habits if gas hit $4.50 a gallon. That number rises to 75% at $5 a gallon. If pump prices keep rising, will people alter their summer travel plans? That remains to be seen.”
According to Energy Information Administration (EIA) data, total domestic gasoline stocks decreased by 500,000 bbl to 219.7 million bbl last week. Gasoline demand also dipped from 9 million b/d to 8.8 million b/d, approximately 700,000 b/d lower than a year ago. The softening of gas demand helped minimize price increases ahead of Memorial Day. However, gas demand may spike this week after drivers took to the roads for the holiday. But pump price increases could be limited if demand slows again following the holiday weekend.
Today’s national average for a gallon of gas is $4.62, which is 45 cents more than a month ago, and $1.58 more than a year ago.