WASHINGTON -- The price of oil's move above $70 is a steep spike, considering just three months ago a barrel cost less than $35.
Experts are calling for higher prices in the near future -- up to $80, possibly $90.
News that proven oil reserves have fallen for the first time in a decade have the head of Russia's Gazprom standing by last year's prediction that oil could eventually cost $250.
It's a stark reality for many Americans still hurting financially.
"It's kind of shocking to pay $88 on a tank of gas," Katie Loudin said.
Drivers are already circling the block, searching for deals.
"I look for the self service to save the dime," driver Tim Young said.
A driver from California said, "you have to hunt down for the lower prices everywhere you go. So I don't know. It's just upsetting really."
Besides diminishing oil reserves, optimism about the economic future is also driving up oil prices as investors on Wall Street see signs the recession is loosening its grip.
"If you look at demand, at the amount of supplies in the country of even around the world, demand is down, supplies are up. If you look at it from that perspective we should have lower prices. It's really being driven again by investors who see oil as a place to make money," said Jeff Spring of the Auto Club of Southern California.
But even as the economy improves, companies continue to shed jobs.
Many Americans are still struggling to make ends meet.
As gas prices go up, consumers may be forced to cut back yet again, spending less and even skipping the vacations that many states are counting on as the economy recovers.
"It's either gas or groceries -- which one do you want to do? Do you want to eat or drive?" a consumer said.
In some cities, the price of goods and services is already going up.
In Chicago, cab drivers just added a 50 cent surcharge to soften the the blow at the pump.
"Even though it's just 50 cents, it's still an extra charge we have to absorb so I'm not happy about it," Taxi customer Jason Goldsmith said.
So even though visits to the gas station are a necessity of modern life, they're once again becoming painful.
"It is scary. It's hard to get around without using your car," retiree Judy Litowitz said.
Last summer, gas peaked at more than $4 per gallon.