Unrest In Libya Driving Up Oklahoma Gas Prices

Thursday, February 24th 2011, 5:47 pm
By: News On 6

Lacie Lowry, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- Oklahoma drivers are feeling the pinch at the pump because of unrest in Libya.

Crude oil prices topped $100 a barrel Thursday over fears that Libya could stop exporting oil.

So how does that result in higher gas prices in Green Country?

News On 6 spoke with one professor who said Libya is not the problem; it's what Libya could mean for the future of that region.

"I have to bargain hunt even for gas," Pat Tah, a Bartlesville resident, said.

AAA Oklahoma says the state average is $3.11 for a gallon of regular unleaded. In Tulsa, it is anywhere from $3.29 to $3.09.

2/23/2011 Related Story: Tulsa Gas Prices Jump To More Than $3

Juanita Wood is on a fixed income and only fills up half a tank at a time.

"I've already cut down on my driving a lot. We've got two vehicles and unless it's an emergency or I have to get out, I just stay home," she said.

"I'm more worried about the problems over in the middle east than I am the oil prices," Ben Harmon, a Tulsa resident, said. "It's like borderline total chaos."

That chaos is a big part of the equation. Libya's share of the global market is very small, around 2 percent, and not all of its oil production has been cut off.

Traders are worried the Libyan revolt could spread to nearby countries, such as oil-rich Saudi Arabia.

"What we're seeing through the region is instability and instability breeds fear and that fear is driving up global oil prices," Rodger Randle, an OU-Tulsa Professor, said.

And those global prices result in higher prices in Northeast Oklahoma through a domino-effect. Most of Libya's oil is exported to Europe.

"If Europe has a decline in available oil, they've got to make it up and they make it up on the world market. The United States buys its oil on the world market," Randle said.

So if the world market is affected, then we're affected because it immediately and directly impacts the prices we pay for the oil we import.

"I don't like it, but I can't do anything about it," Tah said. " I need gas and I just go for the lowest prices wherever I can find it."

Saudi Arabia is in talks with European refiners to make up for the loss of Libyan oil.

On Thursday, President Obama said he's confident the market will "ride out" the turmoil and oil prices will stabilize in time.