Tampa Bay gas prices increase as conflict with Iran escalates

By The Numbers

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Tampa Bay residents are feeling an impact at the pump stemming from the United States’ conflict with Iran.

Relations with Iran have been tense in recent months, leading President Donald Trump to authorize an attack Friday on one of Iran’s top military officials, Qasem Soleimani.

Soleimani’s death caused crude oil prices to spike at more than $70 a barrel for the first time in months.

Iran’s response on Tuesday night led to Americans to assess how this will impact the domestic economy.

As tensions escalate, gas prices are slightly on the rise here in Tampa Bay.

Weekly reports show that Florida’s gas prices averaged seven cents higher than last week at $2.52. Tampa Bay prices averaged $2.49 per gallon, up 10 cents from $2.49 last week, according to AAA.

Average gas prices

Here’s a look at the average price for gas per gallon. Hover over the bar to see the exact numbers.

Source: AAA

Brad Kamp, an associate professor of economics at the University of South Florida, says the increased gas prices are a reflection of what may happen in the future.

“The main cause of a price increase comes from access to crude oil. About 20 percent of crude oil goes through the Strait of Hormuz and the concern is that the strait will close,” Kamp said. “There’s always been a major concern that something will cause it to close. If that happens, estimates say that oil will be $100 a barrel. Today it’s only $64. Even though nothing has happened yet, the price of oil will shoot up in the future.”

In 1979, the price of crude oil went from $9 to $40 a barrel when protesters took hostages at the U.S. embassy in Tehran. But Kamp said a partial Middle East conflict wouldn’t cause that kind of significant price increase at the pump.

“The United States has all the oil we need right now, but all bets are off if we go to war,” Kamp said. “Anytime there’s an increased possibility of a disruption in oil production, the future price of oil goes up because it’s built in that risk.”

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