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Why are gas prices so high? Oil costs rising due to Ukraine-Russia war

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Local gas prices are high and climbing higher in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, limiting U.S. access to oil supplies from Russia, the world’s No. 2 oil producer.

And prices are unlikely to drop anytime soon, experts say, as the conflict continues while demand for gas surges.

“The longer this conflict between Ukraine and Russia carries on, the more unstable gas prices will be,” said Kara Hitchens, Ohio spokeswoman for AAA in Cincinnati, Dayton and Toledo.

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The average price of a gallon of regular gas in Cincinnati was $3.66 cents on Thursday, according to the AAA’s website. That was up about 12% or 32 cents a gallon from the price a week ago, shortly after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered troops into eastern Ukraine.

Prices were has high as $3.79 a gallon at some stations. 

In Northern Kentucky, prices were lower with the average price of a gallon of regular hitting $3.52 Thursday in Covington. That was up about 8% from a week ago.

Average gas prices in Ohio, Northern Kentucky

But average prices on both sides of the Ohio River were nearly $1 higher Thursday than at the same time last year, when the average price in Cincinnati was $2.72 and the price in Northern Kentucky was $2.64.

Is $4 a gallon next? 

“Our industry experts have said it is very possible to get close to $4 a gallon nationally, but at the time no one seemed to think that would happen in Ohio. Now it looks like a definite possibility,” Hitchens said.

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Average prices for premium and diesel fuel have already topped $4 in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky.

The average price for regular gas in the local area peaked at $4.18 on May 4, 2011, according to AAA research.

Why are gas prices going up?

Several factors are driving the price spikes, not just the conflict in Ukraine, according to Hitchens.

Producers who lowered oil production during the pandemic still haven’t ramped production back to pre-pandemic levels, she said.

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And a shortage of tanker drivers who deliver fuel from refineries to retail fueling stations is still disrupting supply chains nationwide.

“It’s kind of a trifecta of bad news for drivers,” Hitchens said.

Those drivers include office workers returning to work en masse, Spring Breakers  preparing to hit the road and and anyone planning a driving vacation during the peak driving season, which starts in April.

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