WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The Saturday attacks on Saudi Arabian oil facilities were the largest in the county’s history.
While it is still uncertain who is responsible for these attacks, the United States Government has called it an attempt to impact the global economy.
The fields that were hit provide 6 percent of the world’s oil supply and these attacks have left many wondering if gas prices in the United States will increase as a result.
“With disturbances in the Middle East, that does have an effect on oil prices, which will translate through the gas prices eventually. However, the US right now is sitting on a rather large supply of oil. So if this is a temporary event, then there’s a chance it goes by without a very large effect on our gas prices,” said regional economist Dr. Adam Jones.
Jones said Middle Eastern oil is not a huge supplier of oil to the region, so it will likely not affect prices significantly.
″As it takes time for supply chains to shift, if this event lasts long enough, supply chains will shift and price spikes in oil will filter over to us. Right now, the markets are suggesting they think it’s going to pass. Oil prices are already recovering," Jones said.
However, depending on a resolution or lack thereof, oil prices could rise quickly.
“That’s the question, what does the retaliation look like and does this turn into either a war that just disrupts supply channels or potentially even damages the oil fields? And the price of oil is driven somewhat by supply and actual fundamentals but a lot by expectations. If the traders expect the price of oil is going to go up in the future, they’re going to drive it up now,” Jones said.
While a small increase in gas prices will not drastically impact most, it could have a delayed impact on southeastern North Carolina’s tourism industry.
″Being a community that’s very reliant on tourism, the price of gas matters a lot because that affects people’s ability to get to town. And if you look at historical patterns, if there’s an increase in the price of gasoline, we feel it here somewhere around six to nine months after that price goes up," Jones said.
Jones said he is “cautiously optimistic” the conflict will pass with no direct impact to the United States.
“My guess is this will be a temporary event, we’re not going to see much of an effect out of it but that all depends on what the follow-up looks like," he said. "If they’re going to affect our prices, it would do it very, very quickly. And they haven’t yet seen it. Prices are up a little bit this week over last week, they’re about where they were a month ago, and they’re down considerably from where they were a year ago.”