Local News

News of potential U.S. attack on Syria sends gas prices up

SEBRING - After a dip in gas prices, drivers are seeing higher prices at the pump due to the war in Syria. The average U.S. price for a gallon of gasoline rose by 1.8 cents to $3.56 a gallon Thursday, its biggest overnight jump in six weeks, according to auto club AAA. In Florida, the average price of a gallon of regular gas increased about 5 cents in one week to $3.549 on Thursday, according to AAA, which is still much lower than a year ago when it was $3.789. Ron Shaffer, who was filling up his truck Friday at the Gate convenience store on U.S. 27 North, Sebring, noticed the prices were up "I think it's because of the war over in Syria," he said.
Shaffer, who has a lawn mowing business, said he will be cutting down on his driving. Jerry Melendy said he wasn't sure about why gas prices have gone up, but believed it could be due to the rumors of war. In the meantime, he's taking a big step to save money on his gasoline bill. "I'm going to have my truck converted to propane ... and I'm going to get off of foreign oil," Melendy declared. He recently ordered the parts for the propane conversion that will cost $6,000 for his 2012 Ford F-150. Melendy said his truck will save a dollar a gallon and will be able to operate on either propane or gasoline. The price of oil has surged 26 percent since touching a low for the year of $86.68 a barrel on April 17. It has jumped because of Egypt and Syria. Neither country is a major oil exporter, but traders are concerned that violence in those countries could spread to more important oil-exporting nations or disrupt major transport routes. The price of oil fell to near $108 a barrel Friday after British lawmakers refused to approve military action against Syria, easing concerns about international intervention in the country's civil war. AAA spokesman Michael Green said "it is increasingly likely that pump prices will rise in the coming days due to concerns about U.S. strikes in Syria and the potential consequences in the Middle East." Still, Green points out that Labor Day gas prices were 27 cents higher last year after Hurricane Isaac struck the U.S. Gulf Coast on Aug. 28 and refinery production lagged. Gas is about 13 percent below its all-time high of $4.11, reached on July 17, 2008, after the price of oil surged to a record. Paul Christopher, Chief International Strategist at Wells Fargo Investors, said oil prices are "really going up and down with Syria," but the concern of an imminent attack, "seem to have abated." On Friday, gasbuddy.com showed that most locations in Sebring were selling a gallon of regular gas in the $3.45 to $3.49 range. mvalero@highlandstoday.com 863-386-5826 The Associated Press contributed to this report