The threat of a U.S. strike on Syria is roiling global oil markets and could cause temporary price increases at the pump.
The price of October U.S. crude oil continued to rally Wednesday, rising to $110.34 a barrel -- a 1% increase. Brent crude oil was up $1.95 at one point, reaching nearly $116 a barrel.
Oil prices have been rising since July, when tensions in Egypt escalated into a crackdown on supporters of now-ousted president Mohamed Morsi. But prices jumped this week as the Obama administration weighed taking military action against the Syrian military for apparently launching a chemical attack against civilians.
Though Syria is not a large oil producer, the fear is that the conflict could spread across the region.
“The entire Middle East could become involved in this,” said Patrick DeHaan, a senior petroleum analyst with GasBuddy.com. “The concern becomes that the supply chain could develop a kink.”
DeHaan said higher crude oil prices are expected to translate into higher gas prices for consumers.
The average price of gas in the U.S. is $3.57 a gallon. In California, the average price is $3.78. If the conflict in Syria continues, those prices could rise by as much as 20 cents, DeHaan said.
In California, “prices could flirt with $4 a gallon,” he said.
With Labor Day unofficially ending the summer driving season, demand should drop and price increases are expected to be temporary, analysts said.