MIDLAND/ODESSA, Texas — U.S. oil prices hit $70 a barrel on Sunday for the first time in nearly three years.
While prices have since backed off a little from that milestone — West Texas Intermediate Crude Oil was last trading at $69.30 per barrel — it still underscores the dramatic rebound in energy prices after crude took an unprecedented dive below zero in April 2020.
The $70 mark is a staggering $110 a barrel above that record low. The last time the US benchmark oil contract traded above $70 was October 2018.
The comeback has been driven by the recovery in demand for gasoline and jet fuel as the pandemic winds down and the economy races back to life. OPEC and Russia continue to restrain supply as well, though they plan to pump more in the coming months.
“An improvement in India Covid-19 case numbers and the ongoing recovery in the US and Europe ahead of their summer is supporting prices,” wrote Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst for Asia Pacific at Oanda, in a Monday note. “OPEC+ is content to postpone tinkering with their production targets for now.”
Meanwhile, Americans continue to pay more at the pump. The average gallon of regular gas fetched $3.05 on Sunday, up from $2.02 a year ago.
Futures for Brent crude have also risen dramatically in recent months. The global benchmark last reached $71.49, and is trading at its highest levels since May 2019.