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Middle East riots stir concern in oil market

Photo by Hugh Osteen

Photo by Hugh Osteen

By M.J. Subiria Arauz

msubiria@news-daily.com

The unrest in the Middle East has caused concerns in the oil market to escalate, according to Jessica Brady, a spokeswoman for the American Automobile Association's (AAA) Auto Club South.

Investors are closely following the protests in Bahrain and Yemen, and the disruption may interrupt oil production in the neighboring country of Saudi Arabia, said Brady.

She added that, according to the International Energy Agency, there has not been any major turmoil in the oil supply, or in production -- yet.

Currently, oil reserves are plentiful and there appear to be no barriers to increased oil production, she said.

Even so, the closing price for crude oil, on Feb. 18, was $86.20 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, she said. That was an increase of 20 cents from the prior week.

"Although investor concerns about the Mideast and North Africa are legitimate, since they account for 35 percent of the world's oil supply and reserves, the unrest has not affected oil production exports," said Brady. "Retail gas prices are starting the week a little higher, with a 4-cent increase in the national average from last week. Depending on what happens this week in the Middle East, the price of oil and gas could make further gains."

The state of Georgia's average gasoline price this week is $3.09 per gallon, a 3-cent increase from last week, she said.

The average gas price in Georgia, however, is less than the average national gas price of $3.16 per gallon, she said.