Brandon Holveck - Delaware Online
Gas prices in Delaware have recently gone up, but there is uncertainty regarding how long the higher prices will remain.
According to AAA-Mid Atlantic, the average price of gas in Delaware increased from $2.34 last week to $2.42 Wednesday. Although a variety of factors contribute to the price of gas, the primary cause of the recent hike is the ongoing conflict between the U.S. and Iran, AAA-Mid Atlantic spokesperson Ken Grant said.
The price of crude oil, which is refined into gasoline, spiked more than 4% to more than $65 per barrel for a short period of time Tuesday night as traders reacted to Iran firing missiles at U.S. and coalition troops at two Iraqi bases. The price quickly retreated to about $62.
Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for fuel-savings app GasBuddy, told USA TODAY that he does not expect a longstanding price increase nationwide, under the premise that the attack may have been measured to reduce a prolonged standoff.
In addition, due to severe sanctions Iran is unable to export its oil to much of the world, which limits the country's impact on petroleum markets.
"Everyone freaks out the moment the attack happens," DeHaan said. "You step away, and this could be the beginning of the end."
DeHaan said further escalation of the conflict, however, could trigger a more severe spike in prices.
$3 gas becoming a thing of the past
Average price for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline, by year
Entering 2020, experts expected gas prices to remain relatively stable as U.S. oil production continues to boom. Production increased almost 40% from 2016 to 2019, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
Greater demand, typical this time of year with drivers on the roads more around the holidays, also factors into the recent upswing, according to Grant. The degree to which the Iran attack exacerbated the increase is difficult to deduce.
Prior to the missile attack, GasBuddy predicted prices would hit a low point in February and peak in May in the lead-up to the summer travel season.
Drivers filling their tanks at the Royal Farms on Kirkwood Highway Wednesday were upset about the price increases, but said the modest cost bump won't change their driving habits.
"I don't like it," Pat Paruszewski said. "But it's not drastic enough to make me change anything." Paruszewski said she bought a new car a few years ago when gas prices regularly topped $3 per gallon and approached $4. If prices continue to increase she said she will consider changing cars again, but Wednesday the New Jersey resident was just happy to be pumping her own gas.
Alan Shore, filling up steps from Paruszewski, is upset everyday customers are facing costs associated with a conflict they're not a part of.
"It's not fair," Shore said. "They're making a profit on oil they bought months ago."