The recent volatility at gas stations throughout the United States is beginning to ease, but not before the average price per gallon soared to above $3 per gallon.
The steady rise in gas prices came to a head last week due to a hack of the Colonial Pipeline, which caused shortages across the Southeast. Gas prices reached $3 per gallon for the first time since 2014, GasBuddy reported.
As Americans plan to travel for Memorial Day, analysts are optimistic gas prices will rebound — though just slightly.
“There is an end in sight,” Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy, said in a news release. “Prices should ease up ahead of the holiday, mainly in areas where the pipeline challenges were most severe. Be warned that a rebound may happen as we approach midsummer, should gasoline demand rise to near-record levels.”
Despite an expected improvement, Memorial Day gas prices will likely be higher than any year since 2014. GasBuddy expects average prices to be at $2.98 per gallon on Memorial Day.
Colonial Pipeline said Monday it was making “substantial progress” in moving gas through its system and was back to being fully operational.
But gas shortages still remain. At least 10% of gas stations in Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia remained without fuel Friday morning, De Haan said on Twitter.
Shortages in recent weeks led to reports of price gouging and panic-buying, which further increased the unavailability of gas.
The average price per gallon of gas in the United States was $3.04 as of Friday, according to AAA.
A 49.6% increase in gas prices over the last year is the largest 12-month increase since 2009, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The recovery of the Colonial Pipeline could lead to an improvement in prices, AAA said.
“As demand and supply move in sync, the national average is expected to continue stabilizing through the weekend. However, we could see some fluctuation next week with the lead up to Memorial Day Weekend, during which AAA forecasts 34 million Americans to take road trips,” AAA said Thursday.
Top road trip destinations this Memorial Day include Las Vegas, Orlando, Myrtle Beach, Denver and Nashville, according to AAA. Auto travel for the holiday is expected to be 50% higher than last year, when the COVID-19 pandemic kept many Americans at home.
Least expensive markets on average, according to AAA
Most expensive markets on average, according to AAA
California: $4.15 per gallon
Hawaii: $3.88 per gallon
Nevada: $3.61 per gallon
Washington: $3.55 per gallon
Oregon: $3.40 per gallon