Business & Real Estate

Gas prices inch downward, but Iraq upheaval could send them soaring

Sacramento-area gasoline prices continue to slowly recede, but energy analysts are warning of potentially significant cost spikes if tensions in Iraq boil over.

Price tracker, which surveys more than 700 regional gas outlets daily, said the average retail price of gas in the Sacramento area fell 1.8 cents over the past week to $3.96 a gallon. The current average is 11.9 cents higher than a year ago but 7.5 cents lower than last month.

Nationally, the average pump price rose nearly 2 cents over the past week to $3.65 a gallon – 2.6 cents higher than last month and 3.7 cents higher than at this time last year.

Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy, said the recent period of slow price declines “appears to be over, as the escalating situation in Iraq takes hold and drives crude oil and retail gasoline prices higher.”

Analysts have speculated that gas prices could surge up to 20 cents to 25 cents a gallon in coming weeks if the ongoing upheaval in Iraq seriously disrupts that nation’s oil production and shipments.

DeHaan said the United States receives 300,000 barrels of Iraqi crude per day, but the more significant concern is Iraq’s pumping capacity of about 3 million barrels a day. “It’s that perceived threat that may cause the national average this week to rise 3 to 6 cents per gallon,” he said.

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