The average price of a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline in Riverside County was at its highest amount to start a year Saturday at $4.607.

The average price is $1.429 higher than one year ago, according to figures from the AAA and Oil Price Information Service.

The average price on Jan. 1, 2021 was $3.178, the lowest amount to start a year since 2018, thanks to a sharp drop at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, caused by weakened demand as many people heeded stay-at-home orders, coupled with the oil price war between Saudi Arabia and Russia, according to Jeffrey Spring, the Automobile Club of Southern California’s corporate communications manager.

The average price rose to $4.641 on Nov. 27, its highest amount since Oct. 13, 2012 and 4.7 cents less than the record high of $4.688 set Oct. 8, 2012. It has since dropped 3.4 cents.

The 2012 figures included stations in San Bernardino County.

The higher gas prices are the result of a sharp increase to oil prices. The price of a barrel of West Texas intermediate crude on the New York Mercantile Exchange has increased 55.01% from one year ago, closing at $75.21 Friday. The percentage gain was the largest since 2009.

Crude oil costs account for slightly more than half of the pump price, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

“There is still strong demand amid a very disciplined approach to increasing production by OPEC+ countries and shale oil producers in the U.S.,” said Spring, referring to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and the Russia-led group of oil producers known as OPEC+.

“Each group got burned by the significant drop in oil prices in March and April 2020, cut back in production and have been very careful in how much they produce now. The Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus may blunt gas prices from rising despite recently higher oil prices.”

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