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Drivers remember 1973-74 oil embargo

AP Explains US Oil Exports - 1970s gas prices
Posted at 10:11 AM, Jun 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-21 21:55:56-04

Nearly 50 years ago, the price of oil doubled, then quadrupled during the 1973-74 oil embargo, according to the U.S. State Department.

After the U.S. resupplied the Israeli military in the 1973 Arab-Israeli War, Arab members of OPEC (the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) banned oil exports to the U.S. After that embargo, there were nationwide fuel shortages and jumps in the price of oil.

"I can remember gas was kind of hard to get," said Gene Rollins, of his memories as a driver during that time.

After the embargo, Rollins went on to own Gene's Deep Rock, a Green Bay gas station.

A look at prices in the 1970s

Philip Groll was also a driver during the embargo.

"Certain gas stations would run out of gas," said Groll, who drove a Dodge Charger during the time.

"...[I]f there was a cheaper [price] in Two Rivers, you ran over to Two Rivers and got gas," said Groll, who volunteers at the Manitowoc County Historical Society.

Average gas prices jumped more than 35 percent from 1973 to 1974, going from 39 cents a gallon to 53 cents a gallon, according to a U.S. Department of Energy report from last June. Adjusted for 2020 numbers (the most recent available in the report), that's like going from $2.28 a gallon to $2.82 a gallon.

The price spike in the 70s was easier to stomach than today's spike, Groll said.

"It was more of an inconvenience back then, versus a downright hardship now."