Was tapping oil reserves the answer all along?

When President Joe Biden last week announced he would release 1 million barrels of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve every day through October to combat rising gas prices and inflation, some analysts said it would result in a moderate drop in prices ahead of increased summer demand.

Has the drop begun? Perhaps.

Average gasoline prices in Riverside have fallen 5.5 cents per gallon in the last week, averaging $5.88/g today, according to GasBuddy’s survey of 481 stations in Riverside. Prices in Riverside are 78.7 cents per gallon higher than a month ago and stand $2.02/g higher than a year ago.

According to GasBuddy price reports, the cheapest station in Riverside was priced at $5.19/g yesterday while the most expensive was $6.39/g, a difference of $1.20/g. The lowest price in the state yesterday was $4.79/g while the highest was $8.94/g, a difference of $4.15/g.

The national average price of gasoline has fallen 5.4 cents per gallon in the last week, averaging $4.17/g today. The national average is up 25.5 cents per gallon from a month ago and stands $1.31/g higher than a year ago, according to GasBuddy data compiled from more than 11 million weekly price reports covering over 150,000 gas stations across the country.

Historical gasoline prices in Riverside and the national average going back ten years:

  • April 4, 2021: $3.86/g (U.S. Average: $2.86/g)
  • April 4, 2020: $2.90/g (U.S. Average: $1.90/g)
  • April 4, 2019: $3.68/g (U.S. Average: $2.73/g)
  • April 4, 2018: $3.48/g (U.S. Average: $2.66/g)
  • April 4, 2017: $2.96/g (U.S. Average: $2.35/g)
  • April 4, 2016: $2.83/g (U.S. Average: $2.06/g)
  • April 4, 2015: $3.18/g (U.S. Average: $2.39/g)
  • April 4, 2014: $4.01/g (U.S. Average: $3.57/g)
  • April 4, 2013: $4.05/g (U.S. Average: $3.63/g)
  • April 4, 2012: $4.29/g (U.S. Average: $3.93/g)

Neighboring areas and their current gas prices:

  • San Bernardino — $5.88/g, down 5.0 cents per gallon from last week’s $5.93/g.
  • Orange County — $5.94/g, down 8.6 cents per gallon from last week’s $6.02/g.
  • Los Angeles — $5.97/g, down 7.5 cents per gallon from last week’s $6.04/g.

“Oil prices fell last week as Covid cases in China surged, prompting restrictions on movements and hurting oil demand. Meanwhile, President Biden’s announcement that the U.S. would be releasing 180 million barrels from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve caused an even further decline in oil, leading gas prices in nearly all areas of the country to fall over the last week,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy. “So long as oil prices remain under $100 per barrel and there’s no escalations in Russia’s war on Ukraine, we may be poised to see gas prices decline again this week as the U.S. and other countries try to raise oil supply to tip prices lower.”

Image Sources

  • Man and Woman at gas pump: iStock