Expect gas prices to go up Island wide

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Today the price of a barrel of oil hit $100 for the first time since 2008 and there's expected to be even more pain at the pump.

According to AAA the price of a gallon of regular unleaded in Honolulu went up a nickel in the past month and 30 cents in the past year. If you don't think what happens in Libya affects us here in Hawaii just wait to see what gas prices do next.

The world's attention went from Tunisia and Egypt to Libya.  It affects Americans because Libya is a member of OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, and the fear is Libya's ruler Muammar Gaddafi could sabotage his oil wells.

"I do think the price will be stiff in the islands for awhile. Even without Libya and Egypt gradually the oil prices were going up so we will continue to see high prices for awhile, if not huge spike of prices," said Dr. Kang Wu, East-West Center Senior Fellow, an energy expert with an emphasis on the oil and gas market analysis.

The United States gets next to no oil from Libya, but other countries do and if prices go up for some, it often goes up for all.  It's based on speculation.  If traders think it will go up eventually it will.

"Because the oil market is global already everyone in the world including us in Hawaii, everyone in the U.S. as a whole is affected by the higher price if there is a price spike," said Dr. Wu.

Libya only produces two percent of the world's oil and Saudi Arabian leaders already announced they will pick up Libya's slack so there shouldn't be an oil shortage.  Add to that the United States still has a surplus of oil from the down economy. Still the possibility of more uprisings abroad scares the oil market.

"It's like a virus. It will spread," said Sen. Daniel Inouye, (D) Hawaii.

"If it spread to Iran, Kuwait or Saudi Arabia then that impact would be huge," said Dr. Wu.

Patrick DeHaan with GasBuddies.com, which tracks the local gas prices and trends here in Hawaii, says there's a 50/50 chance the gas prices here on Oahu will hit $4.50 a gallon by Memorial Day.

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