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How the war in Ukraine may affect U.S. gas prices

‘Rising gas prices are a necessary cost to help the Ukrainian people,’ expert says

EVANSTON, Ill. — Phillip Braun, professor of finance at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, is available to speak with media and explain the trajectory of oil prices in the United States and beyond.

He can be reached by contacting Haley Rebecca Robinson at

How important is Russia in the global oil supply?

Said Braun: “Russia is the third largest supplier of oil in the world, after the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. It produces 12% of the world’s oil supply, including 8% of the U.S.’s supply.

“The market for oil is global, and the removal of Russia from the global supply chain has and will continue to push the price of oil up. The spot price for Brent crude oil peaked today at $113.94 per barrel, its highest price since June 2014, before falling back to $109. U.S. retail gasoline prices for regular now average around $3.52 per gallon, its highest average price since the summer of 2012, and the price is still climbing.”

Would releasing oil from the strategic reserve help?

Said Braun: “The release of some of the U.S. strategic oil reserves is more of a political play than something that will affect oil prices at the pump. This is because the U.S.’s strategic oil reserve stock is around 580 million barrels of oil, the Biden White House has authorized the release of 50 million barrels, the U.S. consumes around 18 million barrels per day, and Russia normally supplies the U.S. around 1.4 million barrels a day. Therefore, the tapping of the oil reserves will cover the lost Russian supplies for around 36 days. The numbers do not add up to have a significant impact. Furthermore, whether oil is coming from the strategic reserves or elsewhere, its price is set in the international markets, and it will continue to climb as the Ukraine crises continues.”

Where are gas prices headed?

Said Braun: “It is hard to know how much higher gas prices will go, although they will go higher. The EU and the U.S. have left loopholes in the recent Russian sanctions to permit Russia to export some oil, but it is not clear how much. The release of strategic oil reserves around the world will only help a little. American consumers need to accept that rising gas prices are a necessary cost to help the Ukrainian people in the midst of their profound crisis.”