The United States and Europe could experience fuel shortages this summer that could be worse than the 1970s oil crisis as demand ramps up for travel season, the head of the International Energy Agency warned.
“When the main holiday season starts in Europe and the US, fuel demand will rise,” Fatih Birol told Der Spiegel.
“Then we could see shortages — for example, in diesel, petrol or kerosene, particularly in Europe.”
Birol said the current energy crisis could be worse and longer-lasting than the shocks of the 1970s.
“Back then it was just about oil,” he said. “Now we have an oil crisis, a gas crisis and an electricity crisis simultaneously.”
Oil prices spiked sharply as a result of the outbreak of the Yom Kippur War in 1973 as well as the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979.
This year, energy prices have been pushed upward after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has further disrupted already limited supply.
Gasoline prices have soared nationwide in the U.S, hitting record highs over the Memorial Day weekend.
American motorists are paying a nationwide average of $4.62 per gallon, according to AAA.
Motorists in California were feeling the strongest pinch, with some gas stations in parts of Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area and the Yosemite region charging in excess of $7.25 per gallon — more than the federal minimum wage.
On average, gas in the Golden State costs $6.15 a gallon, more than in any other in the nation, according to AAA. Californians are saddled with higher prices due to taxes and surcharges that are added onto the baseline cost of fuel.
In Los Angeles County, the most populous county in the country, gas prices reached a record $6.16 per gallon over Memorial Day holiday weekend — up almost $2 from the previous holiday record of $4.29 in 2012, CBS News Los Angeles reported.
The nationwide average, meanwhile, represents a 40% increase from the start of the year. It is also well above last year’s level of $3.04 per gallon.
Analysts predict that more states will cross the $5-per-gallon average by the Fourth of July holiday as demand is expected to increase while supply remains tight.
Global oil prices also continue to tick upwards. Brent crude, the international benchmark, surpassed $123 per barrel on Tuesday, reaching a two-month high.
West Texas Intermediate, the US benchmark, reached more than $118 a barrel on Monday.