Gas prices set to rise on Syria conflict

Staff Reports • Apr 16, 2018 at 9:16 PM

Pump prices will likely get more expensive this week, due to rising geopolitical tensions in the Middle East. 

The conflict in Syria sent crude prices to their highest point in more than three years, and as a result, motorists are about to feel the pain at the pump.

The national average price for gasoline was the highest Sunday in more than two years. Sunday’s average of $2.71 is the highest since July 2015. Tennessee gas prices are the most expensive since last September, when prices recovered from Hurricane Irma. Sunday’s state average of $2.52 was 6 cents more than last week and 34 cents more than last year. 

The most expensive gas price averages in Tennessee were in Nashville at $2.56, Cleveland at $2.53 and Jackson at $2.52. The least expensive gas price averages in Tennessee were in Memphis at $2.46, Chattanooga at $2.47 and Clarksville-Hopkinsville at $2.49.

“Motorists should expect a 15-cent increase at the pump in the short term,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman for AAA. “However, prices could rise even more, depending on how the crude market responds to the latest news of a U.S. missile strike over the weekend.”

Crude prices rose more than $5 last week, which was the largest weekly increase in more than eight months. Crude prices rose due to the potential of U.S. sanctions against Syria’s sponsors, Russia and Iran. Syria has not exported oil since civil war broke out in 2011. However, the country receives fuel deliveries from Iran. 

Crude oil closed at $67.39 per barrel Friday, the highest daily settlement since December 2014. Wholesale gasoline prices responded in kind, with a nearly 15-cent rise. 

Fuel prices are once again vulnerable to conflict in the Middle East, because global supplies are tightening. The OPEC and Non-OPEC production cut agreement will eliminate the global oil supply glut that led to lower prices in recent years. OPEC expects the oil market to rebalance in the second and third quarters of this year.

Nationally, the highest average price for gasoline was April 13 at $2.70; the lowest was Jan. 3 at $2.49. In Tennessee, the highest average price was April 13 at $2.50; the lowest was Jan. 1 at $2.26.

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