Why gas prices are on the rise in the Philadelphia region, across the U.S.

In this April 10, 2019, file photo, rush-hour traffic heads east, left, and west, right, along the Schuylkill Expressway in Philadelphia.  (Jacqueline Larma/AP Photo)

In this April 10, 2019, file photo, rush-hour traffic heads east, left, and west, right, along the Schuylkill Expressway in Philadelphia. (Jacqueline Larma/AP Photo)

Gas prices are rising in the Philadelphia region and across the country, with the average U.S. price of regular gas up 7 cents over the past two weeks.

In New Jersey, for example, prices are more than $1 per gallon higher than they were a year ago. AAA Mid-Atlantic says the average price of a gallon of regular gas in New Jersey on Friday was $3.25, up three cents from a week ago. Drivers were paying an average of $2.28 a gallon a year ago at this time.

The price increase comes down to both supply and demand.

On the supply side, the price of crude oil is twice what it was in October 2020. Oil producers tried to decrease production during the pandemic as people travelled much less, and are still trying to increase production to recover from that, according to NPR. The recent hurricanes in the U.S. also affected the supply. Earlier this month, OPEC, the international cartel of oil producers, decided to only gradually add supply back to the market, according to The New York Times.

On the demand side, NPR reported that the natural gas prices went up, so some power plants that normally burn natural gas switched to oil instead, driving up the price of oil even more. Also, many schools in the U.S. are back to in person-learning, and there is less remote work compared to last year, so more people are traveling again, said Jana Tidwell, a public relations manager for AAA.

“As 2021 moves on, and most people return to something as close to a normal routine as they’ve seen in nearly two years, we’re seeing an increase in energy demand,” she said.

She recommended drivers consider combining trips, braking gradually, turning off the air conditioning, and not storing as much in their cars to save gas.

She added that right now it is close to impossible to forecast where the prices might be during Thanksgiving, one of the busiest travel holidays all year, though she expects more people to travel this year than last year.

WHYY’s Alan Yu contributed reporting.

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