Is the U.S. Headed for a Gas Shortage?

Americans have experienced a tumultuous few years in regard to gasoline prices, and 2023 doesn't appear to be shaping up any differently.

Americans saw both ends of the spectrum with gas prices, with prices reaching astonishing lows with averages below $2 per gallon during the COVID-19 pandemic and, a few years later, topping out at an average of more than $5 per gallon in June 2022 as demand surged and Russia's invasion of Ukraine sparked new oil sanctions. Now, one report is anticipating a gasoline shortage to plague the East Coast this summer, but experts disagree.

Bloomberg published an article Monday explaining that as the European Union's ban against fuel imports made from Russian crude oil takes effect later this month, the United States will see an impact, specifically the East Coast. According to the article, U.S. oil supplies are already low, which often relies on imported oil for its supplies. Bloomberg anticipated a price hike in gasoline, sparking more financial stress for Americans and more problems for President Joe Biden as he enters the last half of his presidency.

Gas shortage
Bags cover gas pump handles due to shortage at a Quick Trip gas station in Charlotte, North Carolina, on May 12, 2021. Logan Cyrus/AFP/Getty

However, experts disagree with the predictions. AAA spokesperson Andrew Gross told Newsweek in an email that when used to describe gasoline trends, "shortage" is a loaded word. He said gasoline supply can "grow tight" regionally, but that there has never been a gasoline shortage in the U.S.

He also advised against making predictions in the gas market, especially months in advance.

"There is simply no way you can forecast what's going to happen or not happen three months out," Gross said.

GasBuddy head of petroleum analysis Patrick De Haan agreed that gas supply may tighten as the year progresses, specifically because of the EU ban, but he also wasn't quick to assume that would occur in conjunction with a shortage.

"I think while there are risks that gasoline supplies may again be tight this spring as Europe competes more for the supply that might head to the East Coast, there is no reason to belief shortages are imminent," De Haan told Newsweek in an email. "Many wildcards could change that, but like last fall when the situation got extremely tight for distillates, many media outlets suggested diesel supplies would dry up and those fears never resulted in disruption. Markets are resilient."

Despite surging fears of a shortage, gas could still be at the forefront of American worries. A blog published on GasBuddy's website revealed that for the fifth straight week, average gasoline prices have increased. The most recent increase was roughly 10 cents per gallon, with the average gasoline price at $3.50 per gallon on Wednesday, according to AAA's gas prices webpage.

Over the past month, the average has leaped more than 33 cents per gallon, according to the blog. When compared to a year ago, prices were on average 14 cents higher per gallon. Diesel prices also have crept up in the last week by a little more than 5 cents per gallon. The average cost for a gallon of diesel is $4.67.