Gas prices are getting pumped up to their highest level in years here in Great Bend and the surrounding communities.
The national average price of gasoline is now at its priciest since July 2015, nearly 1,000 days, rising to $2.68 per gallon overnight according to GasBuddy.
The sudden surge after a week of relative calm at the pump can be blamed on oil prices surging to nearly $67 per barrel, the highest level since 2014, on fears of military action in Syria and trade conflict with China. U.S. oil inventories also stand 20-percent lower than a year ago, the result of higher crude oil exports and OPEC’s agreement to cut oil production, now in its 15th month.
In addition, smaller issues driving prices up include refinery maintenance season, which is beginning to wrap up, and the switch-over to summer gasoline, which is also nearing completion. Overall, the rally at the pump may be near a 7th inning stretch with the summer driving season just six weeks away.
“Many will be quick to ask why this trend is happening. Ultimately, OPEC bears much of the responsibility for cutting oil production in 2017, leaving U.S. oil inventories at far lower levels than a year ago. However, higher oil prices have also enticed U.S. producers to ramp up crude oil exports, effectively draining U.S. oil inventories at a higher pace than that oil is being replaced,” said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy. “In addition, recent rhetoric from the Trump Administration inflaming the situation in Syria and pushing a trade war with China is like pouring gasoline on a fire — they certainly put more upward pressure on prices.”