By the end of the day Monday, the average price of gasoline per gallon in Connecticut had reached $4.32, up 2 cents since Sunday and 19 cents over the past week, according to AAA.
Tracy Noble, Public Relations Manager for AAA in Greater Hartford, called it a “drastic” increase, and attributed the climb to global instability following the European Union’s announced plan to ban Russian crude oil from the market.
“It’s market fluctuation. Crude oil prices rose last week after the EU announced plans to ban Russian oil exports within the next six months,” Noble said in a telephone interview. “When they made that announcement, it was like they flipped a switch. We saw the price per barrel immediately start to react.”
On Monday, May 2, the closing price for a barrel of crude oil was $105.17. By the close of business Friday it was $109.77, Noble said.
“Unfortunately we’ve been on this wild ride these last few weeks. We’re hoping there’s an end in sight,” Noble said, adding that the price of crude oil per barrel dropped on Monday, May 9, closing around $102.
“It did take a bit of a dip today, which could be a good thing,” Noble said. “It’s good news.”
She also said Connecticut is faring better than most of the northeastern states because of the gas tax holiday passed by the General Assembly. Last month, lawmakers eliminated the 25-cent, per gallon excise tax and extended that gas tax holiday through Dec. 1 as part of the budget Gov. Ned Lamont signed Monday.
“In Connecticut, the fact of the matter is that they are taking 25-cents off the price per gallon,” Noble said. “It might not seem like it’s having an impact, but it truly is.”
Average gas price per gallon Monday by northeast state:
• New York: $4.51
• New Jersey: $4.47
• Vermont: $4.39
• Massachusetts $4.39
• Rhode Island $4.37
• Maine: $4.37
• Connecticut $4.32
• New Hampshire: $4.29
It’s not clear how long a ban on Russian crude will last or whether the market can recover to any extent while such a ban is in place.
“Russia is a large supplier, predominantly to Europe. It’s not the largest supplier to us,” Noble said. “But the global market is driving prices. It just goes to show how tensions in the global market play a role here at home.”
Noble also said that there’s no indication yet that people are changing their behavior in terms of how much driving they are willing to do.
At what price do people start changing their behaviors, Noble said, adding that last year she would have said $4.
“Here we are at $4.32, and with the majority of the states in the region at that point or above.”
And people still appear to be driving plenty of miles on Connecticut roads.
“We are in this wait-and-see type of mentality because people haven’t traveled for the last two years because of the pandemic,” she said.
AAA’s poll, conducted April 8-9, asked Connecticut residents whether fuel prices would alter their summer vacation plans. The poll says 40% of the respondents said prices would not change their plans.
The state saw its highest-on-record average price of regular gasoline per gallon on March 11 at $4.49. The previous peak price, according to AAA, was $4.39 on July 9, 2008, just before the Great Recession.
Last week, the price of a gallon of regular gasoline broke a 14-year record in the U.S., according to AAA, as the national average gas price soared past its previous peak of $4.144 per gallon, set in July 2008, and continued rising to hit $4.318 per gallon on Thursday. (UPDATE: The national average on May 12 had risen to a new record at $4.418.)
However, according to Fortune, adjusted for inflation the real cost of a gallon of gas from July 2008 would have to reach $5.37 in today’s dollars to approximate the same economic conditions experienced back then – well above the current cost of $4.418 per gallon.