GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) – Why, oh why, did gas prices have to surge again so high – just when we were getting pumped that a recent and relatively dramatic plunge would stream into the future?

Prices in Greensboro bumped up another 14 cents on average this week, based on the weekly survey of hundreds of stations by GasBuddy, and they now have cracked the $4 barrier – which means the increase seems larger than it really is. That average is $4.09, which is 26 cents a gallon higher than it was a month ago. We don’t even want to think about a year ago, when we already were complaining about an average price of $2.73 for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline.

GasBuddy’s average cost of a gallon of regular unleaded gas across the U.S. (GASBUDDY)

Oh, and diesel fuel? Well it is at $5.518 per gallon nationally, up another 22.6 cents, too, GasBuddy’s data say. And that’s record territory – especially in how that price compares to gasoline.

The bigger issue is why this has happened again, and we first turn to GasBuddy’s analyst, Patrick De Haan:

“Gasoline and diesel prices alike saw strong upward momentum last week as oil prices continued to climb after the EU signaled its desire to sanction Russian oil. In addition, U.S. petroleum inventories saw yet another weekly decline as we near the start of summer driving season,” De Haan said in a release. “Not only are diesel prices at a record high, they are at their largest differential to gasoline on record, surpassing the 98-cent difference in 2008 and currently standing at a $1.20 per gallon premium.

“While motorists filling with gasoline have seen a slight rise in prices, diesel’s surge will be a double whammy as diesel prices will soon be passed along to retail channels, further pushing up the cost of goods.”

Kiplinger in a personal finance newsletter published last week said that we should blame, in order, COVID-19’s “crushing the oil market,” the war in Ukraine, the move away from oil and energy companies not rushing to drill for more oil.

AAA  spokesperson Andrew Gross blamed it on the price of crude: “With the cost of oil accounting for more than half of the pump price, more expensive oil means more expensive gasoline. These prices are creeping closer to those record high levels of early March.”

Some are noting price increases and then pointing to the recent revenue reports by oil companies. Shell last week reported adjusted earnings of $9.1 billion, nearly triple the $3.2 billion from 2021. Texas-based Exxon Mobil doubled its profits, to $5.48 billion, The Associated Press reported.

Here’s what The AP said Exxon Mobil CEO Darren Woods told investors in a conference call in late April:

“As we think about recent events, our job has never been clearer or more important. The need to meet society’s evolving needs reliably and affordably is what consumers and businesses across the globe are demanding and what we delivered this quarter.”

Local price perspective

Greensboro’s 26-cent increase in the past four weeks would match what AAA reported to be the largest state increase (Michigan) during the past week. North Carolina’s overall average was up 16.3 cents (to $4.10) last week, which was slightly more than Greensboro’s. GasBuddy reported that weekly increase ranked 27th nationally.

And if you want to compare locally, Greensboro’s average price matched Winston-Salem and Durham and was up about the same (Winston-Salem 14.5 cents and Durham 13.4 cents).

GasBuddy reported that nationally prices rose by 13.6 cents last week and were up by 19.6 cents in the past month. The average is $4.31, based on a survey of 11 million reports at 150,000 outlets.

Historical comparison

A 10-year look at gas prices in Greensboro and the nation, as recorded by GasBuddy:

  • May 9, 2021: $2.72/g (U.S. Average: $2.95/g).
  • May 9, 2020: $1.64/g (U.S. Average: $1.84/g).
  • May 9, 2019: $2.65/g (U.S. Average: $2.87/g).
  • May 9, 2018: $2.65/g (U.S. Average: $2.84/g).
  • May 9, 2017: $2.20/g (U.S. Average: $2.33/g).
  • May 9, 2016: $2.17/g (U.S. Average: $2.21/g).
  • May 9, 2015: $2.52/g (U.S. Average: $2.66/g).
  • May 9, 2014: $3.61/g (U.S. Average: $3.67/g).
  • May 9, 2013: $3.39/g (U.S. Average: $3.55/g).
  • May 9, 2012: $3.62/g (U.S. Average: $3.74/g).