Are you ready for $4 gas?

February 23, 2011 11:41:32 PM PST
The unrest in the Middle East is beginning to cause a domino effect, including at the pump.

The last time a barrel of crude oil cost $100 was back in September of 2008. The record was $147 a barrel that same year. This resulted in many drivers having to pay as much as $4 a gallon for gasoline, and the same could happen again soon.

Most of Libya's crude oil goes to Europe.

"I didn't know Libya had this much input on our gas supplies," said San Francisco resident Marc Erlandson."

It does because European countries then start to compete with the U.S. for our sources of oil. More demand drives prices even higher.

At the pump, just a week ago, oil was around $84 a barrel, by Wednesday it briefly reached $100.

According to Moody's, a dollar increase in oil prices translates into another two-and-half cents at the pump. That's why you've started paying an extra 40 cents a gallon every time you fuel up.

Paying more for gas is expected to affect consumer spending. One leading economist says every penny increase we pay at the pump robs about $1.2 billion in consumer spending from our economy.

"Ninety dollars to fill up a tank, and that's every week," said East Bay resident Ben Rosario. "Weekend movies, date nights with the wife, got to cut back a little bit."

Tuggey's hardware store in San Francisco's Noe Valley neighborhood has been in business since 1898. Manager Michael Gutierrez says he will find a way to cover his escalating prices.

"Things like rubber products and oil products and things that run on gas, all those prices are going to hike up," he said. "Customers aren't going to be happy with those prices."

That will, in turn, have an impact on corporate profits. If consumers don't buy goods, businesses will pull back.

"That's why you're seeing a big negative effect on the stock market right now," said Daniel Arnall with ABC News' business unit. "Investors quite simply say, if prices for oil remain high, corporate profits are going to go down."

In the meantime, Saudi Arabia has stepped in to say it will fill in the void, but there is real concern that what is happening in Libya may have an impact on other oil producing countries like Saudi Arabia. When there is this level of uncertainty, the stock market simply does not like it.

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