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As Russia-Ukraine conflict continues, gas prices steadily increase

Posted at 6:33 AM, Mar 03, 2022

Gas prices are steadily increasing as the conflict between Russia and Ukraine continues.

Gas prices are going up across the country, but here in San Luis Obispo, on average, it will cost you more to fill up your gas tank than in any other part of the state.

"Gas prices in San Luis Obispo right now are the highest in California and probably the highest in the country of any major region," said Automobile Club of Southern California spokesperson Marie Montgomery.

San Francisco has the next highest gas price, averaging $4.98 per gallon. San Luis Obispo is disproportionately impacted due to it's location and lack of competitiveness among gas stations.

The average cost of gas right now is $5.04 per gallon in San Luis Obispo. That's ten cents more than it was just one week ago. Santa Barbara gas prices are averaging $4.82 per gallon, also about 10 cents higher than last week.

Contributing factors to the high gas prices in San Luis Obispo include oil prices increasing as a result of the conflict in Ukraine and inflation which has been steadily rising throughout the pandemic.

Although California doesn't directly receive oil from Russia, we do use oil in our gasoline and half of the price of gasoline is the price of oil. In turn, when the price of oil raises universally gas prices do the same.

"Right now I don't expect to see any change in the price of oil," said California Polytechnic State University Professor of Economics, Eric Fisher.

Cal Poly Economics Professor Eric Fisher explains as a country we have made the decision to boycott Russian exports of energy.

That is a cut back of about 5 percent of world supply.

The Secretary of Energy of the United States, Jennifer Granholm, and her counterparts around the globe have decided to draw down their strategic reserves in order to keep prices stable. So far they have drawn down 12 days worth of Russian exports.

"So, right now [the price of] gas may creep up here in San Luis Obispo, but it has more to do with long term inflation than it has to do with the short-term disruption of supply from Russia," said Fisher.

The conflict in Ukraine is impacting every product that uses oil, from airplanes to diesel trucks.

"Of course gas prices are going to have an impact. They're going to have an impact on your overall budget and your overall amount of money that you're going to have to spend on traveling," said Montgomery.

San Luis Obispo resident Maggie Moran is originally from Orange County and travels back and forth quite often.

"It's about a four-hour drive, so it is a lot paying for gas both ways," Moran said.

Though painful, these high gas prices aren't keeping residents at home.

"It's not going to stop me from traveling," said Atascadero resident Danielle Colangelo.

Colangelo isn't surprised by the high gas prices and says she expected this.

"I'm willing to pay a little more at the gas pumps if that means we get to cut off Russia a little bit," said Colangelo.

If the U.S. does not draw on strategic reserves too much, the price of gas will likely increase in the coming months.

"We'll see the price of gas probably go up from $5 to $6.90, but that means not in twelve days, but maybe in 2-3 months—if this conflict persists," said Fisher.