Syria Strikes Could Catapult Oil Prices Even Higher

Syria does not produce much oil.

It’s allies do, though, said Ed Hirs, an energy economist at the University of Houston.

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“Iran and Russia being two of Syria’s primary allies are of course, two of the largest oil exporting in the countries in the world,” Hirs said from his office in Houston. “A little run unrest in that part of the world goes a long way in bumping prices a tiny bit.”

Hirs said oil prices spiked after the United States bombed Iraq in 1998. The president said Wednesday he’s still weighing his options on how to respond to chemical attacks in Syria last week. His own Defense Secretary said cruise missile strikes are an option.

The unrest and climb in prices comes as rural Alaskans are stockpiling heating oil and gasoline for the winter.

Bob Cox, vice-president at Crowley – the company that barges refined petroleum products to Western Alaska, said the second to last barge of the season went out Wednesday. That’s headed for communities near Norton Sound.

The final is scheduled to load and ship out next week for Bethel and the Y-K Delta.

“There’s been a run up in the markets here in the last week and we see prices $.15 or $.20 a gallon higher than they would have been two weeks ago,” Cox said.

The last two barges account for just 10% of the 50 million gallons Crowley ships to Western Alaska throughout the summer.Despite the high prices for the final shipments, this season as a whole will be cheaper than last.

“It’s actually been a pretty good year. I was tracking prices over the last few years. 2013 prices were actually down a little bit versus last year,” Cox said.

Last year’s prices – like this year’s – were a result of unrest in the Middle East.