What’s behind a rise in gas prices in the DC area?

Gas prices are on the rise again in the D.C. area, as motorists have seen around a 10-cent per gallon spike for unleaded gasoline since last week.

According to GasBuddy, a website that tracks fuel prices, the average price-per-gallon in Maryland and Virginia is $3.40, with D.C. seeing $3.53 a gallon.

One thing at play is several oil-producing countries, many of them part of OPEC, deciding to extend crude production cuts by another million barrels. That brings the total number of barrels cut to 3 million, about 3% of the world’s oil supply, since October.

Ellen Laipson is the director of the Center for Security Policy Studies in the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University. She said the latest cut was an expected move by the countries.

“They do budget projections that are based on a certain assumption about the price of oil, and they don’t want to see it dropped down below that,” Laipson said.

Russia is among the countries extending its cuts to oil production, which some see as a strategy to not only make inflation worse in countries such as the United States but also to lessen the blow of sanctions imposed on the country by the West.

“It will be interpreted as trying to support the Russians as an oil exporter, as an oil-exporting country, and not being sufficiently attentive to America’s interest in isolating Russia and keeping sanctions hard on Russia to try to change their behavior.

Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis for the Oil Price Information Service, said in addition to crude cuts and politics, gas prices will also be affected by the switch from a winter to a summer blend of gasoline.

Kloza said that despite all that is happening, he does not expect a repeat of last summer when the price per gallon exceeded $4.

“It’s not the gasoline apocalypse that some people might make it out to be,” Kloza said.

For what Kloza expects to see around the D.C. region, he said think MLB batting averages.

“Maybe it’s a Wade Boggs, or it’s a Tony Gwynn year, where we get up to 380 or 390,” Kloza said.

He said prices above $4 are expected along the West Coast.

Mike Murillo

Mike Murillo is a reporter and anchor at WTOP. Before joining WTOP in 2013, he worked in radio in Orlando, New York City and Philadelphia.

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