Why Are Gas Prices So High in 2022? Blame Putin

American motorists are being punished with the national average price for a gallon of gas reaching $3.42 on Monday, as concerns over supply spurred by the prospect of Russia invading Ukraine made their presence felt at the pump.

Data from the American Automobile Association (AAA) showed that consumers are now paying the most at the pump since September 10, 2014, CNBC reported.

Monday's price is now eight cents higher than a week ago, and 12.3 cents more than this time last year, according to GasBuddy, which compiled data from 11 million price reports from 150,000 gas stations across the U.S.

This time last year, the average price of a gallon of gas was 97.5 cents cheaper, and gas prices have seen their sharpest spike in months after oil surged to $93 a barrel last week.

As of Monday, the lowest prices were in Mississippi ($3.06), Arkansas ($3.08), and Oklahoma ($3.08). Those with the highest pump prices are California ($4.65), Hawaii ($4.41), and Washington ($3.93), GasBuddy said.

The median U.S. price is $3.29 per gallon, 10 cents more than last week.

The prospect of a Moscow-led invasion of Ukraine has hit confidence in the ability for oil producers to meet the higher demand caused by the easing of COVID-19 restrictions in the U.S. and globally.

Russia is the world's second-largest exporter of crude oil and petroleum products.

Patrick De Haan, GasBuddy's head of petroleum analysis, said the Ukraine crisis might mean "there won't be enough supply to meet demand come this summer."

Motorists' wallets could be hit even harder with the biggest spikes expected in spring due to "a confluence of seasonal factors and the potential flare up in geopolitical tensions."

His prediction is that the national average could reach as much as $4 a gallon by the start of the summer driving season, "unless there's a major nuclear deal with Iran, which has looked doubtful."

"If there's a deal with Iran, we may suddenly have a few extra million barrels of oil per day, which could be the only thing to derail the $4 prediction," he told Newsweek.

Indirect negotiations are ongoing between the U.S. and Iran to the nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JPCOA).

Anu Gaggar, Global Investment Strategist for Commonwealth Financial Network, said last week that if Russia invades Ukraine, "the markets could get edgy."

"If Russian energy supplies are disrupted, energy prices could spike higher, especially in European markets," Gaggar said in a statement to Newsweek.

On Friday, President Joe Biden would not specify how to tackle gas prices at the pump, although he did say, "we're working to bring them down."

The inflationary pressure of higher gas prices poses a problem for the Biden administration which announced in November it would tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve as part of a move with other countries to ease prices for consumers.

A gas pump nozzle
A gas pump nozzle is seen at a gas station in this illustrative image. Gas prices have reached an eight-year high on February 8, 2022. Joe Raedle/Getty