Motorists can expect to pay more at the pump, a Conway gasoline marketer said, because of Monday’s spike in oil prices.
Oil costs rose to a nine-month high above $105 a barrel after Iran said it halted crude exports to Britain and France in an escalation of a dispute over the Middle Eastern country’s nuclear program.
“It doesn’t take much instability in that region to cause an immediate effect in local gasoline prices,” Branch Satterfield of Satterfield Oil said.
“Pretty high” gasoline prices are forcing motorists develop a more conservative attitude about travel, Satterfield said, and that is sparking a decline in the demand for gasoline.
The price for unleaded at most Satterfield stations late Monday was $3.39 per gallon. Spot checks at other stations included unleaded prices of $3.44 at Keith’s in Vilonia and $3.42 at Doublebee’s on Oak Street in Conway.
“The oil price rise is more a reflection of concerns about the further escalation in tensions between Iran and the West,” said commodity analyst Caroline Bain of the Economist Intelligence Unit. “Banning the tiny quantities of exports to the U.K. and France involves very little risk for Iran — indeed quite the opposite, it catches the headlines and leads to a higher global oil price, which is something Iran is very keen to encourage.”
Oil has jumped from $96 earlier this month amid optimism the global economy may grow more this year than previously expected.
In other energy trading in March contracts, heating oil gained 3 cents to $3.22 per gallon and gasoline futures rose 3.2 cents to $3.22 per gallon. Natural gas lost 7 cents to $2.62 per 1,000 cubic feet.
Markets were closed Monday for the Presidents Day holiday.
(Staff writer Becky Harris can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 505-1234. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)