Gas prices easing slightly, but rates fluctuate wildly across the suburbs

Domestic and international factors are converging to give suburban drivers a slight break at the gas pump after days of budget-busting spikes.

A gallon of regular averaged $4.56 in the Chicago metro area on Monday compared to $4.62 a week ago and a high of $4.67 on March 11, AAA reported. On April 4, 2021, that same gallon cost $3.17.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 23 sent oil prices spinning upward but AAA analysts expect consumers should see some relief with the federal government putting 1 million additional barrels of oil a day on the market for six months, drawing from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

At the same time, OPEC has announced a slight increase in production, and a COVID-19 lockdown in parts of China is reducing demand.

"The upward push on oil prices caused by Russia's war in Ukraine is meeting stronger downward pressure from the planned SPR oil release and increased COVID fears in China," AAA spokeswoman Molly Hart said.

"And lower global oil prices are reflected in falling pump prices for consumers in the U.S.," she added.

The Biden administration banned Russian oil imports in March.

Across the metro region, gas prices fluctuated, with some bargains to be had. At separate BP stations, a gallon of regular cost $4.19 in Mundelein, $4.24 in Addison and $4.35 in Elk Grove Village, GasBuddy's website indicated.

On the higher end, a Lake Forest Shell station charged $4.89 a gallon and a Rosemont Mobil was asking $4.79 as of Monday afternoon.

Overall, gas prices are easing somewhat and the cost of a barrel of oil has dropped from $123 right after Ukraine was attacked to about $99, AAA experts noted. But the market is expected to be volatile this week, they noted.

Meanwhile, diesel has averaged about $5 a gallon in the Chicago region for the past week, which is affecting the price of goods such as groceries. A month ago, diesel averaged $4.19 a gallon and a year ago it was $3.20, according to AAA.

The Strategic Petroleum Resource is held in caverns located along the Gulf Coast and has a capacity of up to 700 million barrels of oil.

How much higher could gas prices go? We could be near the peak, AAA says

How to save fuel and money as gas prices soar

How spiking diesel costs translate into higher prices for everyone

  Gas prices on Monday at the Mobil on Northwest Highway in Arlington Heights was $4.54 if you pay cash. Paul Valade/
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