OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – As gas prices continue to climb to record levels, many Americans are feeling the pain at the pump.

On Wednesday, crude oil closed at $115.31 a barrel.

But why are gas prices so high?

Gas prices nationwide are averaging around $5 a gallon, which is nearly $2 higher than the average price at the pump was one year ago.

Gasoline prices have been surging since April 2020, when the initial shock of the pandemic drove prices under $1.80 a gallon, according to government figures. They hit $3 in May 2021 and cruised past $4 this March.

Officials say global oil prices have been rising since December. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the sanctions by the United States and its allies have contributed to the rise in prices since Russia is a leading oil producer.

The United States is the world’s largest oil producer, but U.S. capacity to turn oil into gasoline is down 900,000 barrels of oil per day since the end of 2019, according to the Energy Department.

Some refineries that produce gasoline, jet fuel, diesel and other petroleum products shut down during the first year of the pandemic, when demand collapsed. While a few are expected to boost capacity in the next year or so, others are reluctant to invest in new facilities because the transition to electric vehicles will reduce demand for gasoline over the long run.

While this is the first time breaking the $5 barrier, it’s still not a record when inflation is taken into account.

Gas peaked at $4.11 a gallon in July 2008, which would be equal to about $5.40 a gallon today.

Rising gas prices are a key driver in the highest inflation that Americans have seen in 40 years.