Washington [US], May 10 (ANI/Sputnik): Prices of gasoline at the pump in the United States have hit record highs and added to runaway inflation as President Joe Biden prepares to address the nation later on Tuesday on measures taken by his administration to control prices of goods and necessities growing at their fastest pace in 40 years, the White House said.
"Gas prices were a little bit lower last month, (but) they have come back," White House Economic Adviser Cecilia Rouse said during an appearance on the MSNBC network. "The president is very focused on it, which is why he's addressing the nation today to lay out his understanding and his focus on ways to try to address it."
Earlier on Tuesday, the American Automobile Association reported that the average price of gasoline was USD 4.37. That was the highest price ever for regular auto fuel in the United States, which rewrote a March record high of USD 4.33 that came on the back of the Western sanctions imposed on Russia in the aftermath of the Ukraine crisis.
Gasoline prices dipped to as low as USD 4.07 a gallon in April after the Biden administration announced the release of unprecedented volumes of crude oil from the US Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) in a bid to reduce the global supply strain heightened by the sanctions on Russia.
Biden authorized his first major SPR withdrawal in November as oil supplies began tightening amid a rapid recovery in demand from the coronavirus crisis that pushed up both crude and US fuel prices.
Over the past two months, the Biden administration has taken 3 million barrels on the average out of the SPR every week to help meet domestic refiners' demand for crude in a market seeing a surfeit in fuel consumption amid a strong economic recovery from the two-year long coronavirus pandemic.
The administration's biggest SPR releases commence from this month as it releases a total of 180 million barrels through July - roughly one million barrels per day over the next 180 days.
The US Weekly Petroleum Status Report showed that SPR inventories stood at 550 million barrels during the week that ended on April 29. That was the lowest level of stockpiles in the reserve since December 2001.
The price of oil itself has dropped from 14-year highs of nearly USD 140 for a barrel of benchmark Brent crude in early March to Tuesday's level of USD 105. But gasoline prices have hardly matched the slide, prompting Biden to accuse energy companies of price-gouging.
The president is due to address the nation on inflation at 11:30 a.m. ET (15:30 GMT). (ANI/Sputnik)