Are Gas Prices Affected by the COVID-19 Delta Variant?

If you’re always aware of your car’s gas mileage and check prices whenever you drive past a gas station or freak out after pulling up to the pump, you’re not alone. Nowadays, you can never know what to expect when it comes to gas prices, which can make you uneasy. But authorities aren’t to blame every time you see a price hike.

In fact, various factors affect the price you pay at the pump, and the government might not have much of an influence over them. But is the COVID-19 Delta variant affecting gas prices?

What affects gas prices?

Gas prices displayed at an Exxon gas station on Capitol HIll in Washington on Monday, March 15, 2021
Gas prices at an Exxon station on Capitol Hill | Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

People are always traveling — for leisure, business, and other reasons. That means that whenever you travel, you should expect to pay for gas either directly or indirectly. So any factor affecting gas prices has an impact on you in various ways. Here are some of the aspects that dictate the price you pay at the pump.

Location

Where you fill your tank determines what you pay for gasoline. Any disruptions to the supply chain, distance from the original supply, operating expenses, and retail competition factor into gas prices. So, for instance, if a hurricane hits, the storm can cause transportation issues or a refinery shutdown.

Those situations affect the gasoline supply, which, in turn, pushes prices up at the pump.

The cost of crude oil

First, understand that the cost of crude oil determines over 50% of the cost of gas, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reports. Crude oil refers to oil directly from the ground, and demand and supply are the biggest determinants of its cost. That means that when the production of crude oil increases, it reduces pump prices and vice versa. 

The economy influences much of that. So when the economy is doing well, it boosts the demand for crude oil, which, in turn, changes gas prices.

Marketing and distribution

You probably never think of gas stations as supreme masters of sly marketing tactics. The truth is that distribution and brand appeal significantly affect gas prices. It’s also worth mentioning that the brand-name snacks at a service station mart can dictate the price you pay at the pump.

Taxes 

Although taxes don’t play a starring role in gas prices, they matter. Note that taxes are partially the explanation behind significant variations in gas prices from state to state. Also, understand that the federal tax rate charged at every gas station is the same, but each state sets its tax rates. The implication here is that some states tack on environmental fees and other costs, while others charge sales tax.

Is the Delta variant affecting gas prices?

Since the onset of the pandemic, the world has changed in many ways. The health crisis has affected economies, lives, and gas prices. That was evident in 2020 when gas prices plunged because of increased output and reduced demand resulting from stay-at-home orders and curfews.

However, in 2021, things have taken a turn, thanks to the coronavirus vaccine, easing of social distancing and masking mandates, and subsequent economic upswing. That means more people are traveling, and businesses are also opening their doors. These are some of the reasons why gas prices are on the rise. However, the Delta variant has significantly affected the crude oil market, GasBuddy reports.

As a result, fuel prices have dipped, but demand remains strong, Fox Business reports. As much as that’s the case, there’s a recent rebound in crude oil prices since the expectation is that the spread of the Delta variant will not have a significant impact on global fuel demand recovery. According to WPLG Local 10, motorists will probably enjoy a brief respite from high gas prices as summer winds down.

Apps like GasBuddy can help you find the best gas prices

Today, motorists are looking for ways to save on gas. That’s what GasBuddy is all about. Fuel savings have now become easier and more accessible through services such as GasBuddy. You can save on gas by accessing cash-back rewards on purchases with brand partners and through real-time gas prices.

Also, you can pay for gas with a GasBuddy payments card, which offers cents off per gallon, and you can download the GasBuddy app to see the benefits it provides.

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