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Local expert weighs in on gas price hike

Best local gas prices in Tulsa
Posted at 5:36 PM, Sep 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-18 00:14:09-04

TULSA — While we are still paying 30 cents less than we were a year ago, the increase in cost has people paying attention.

And while we are more energy independent than we have ever been, we are still impacted by the global market.

Tom Seng is the director of the School of Energy and assistant professor at Tulsa University.

Seng says watching this latest conflict over oil in Saudi Arabia has been surprising with gas prices climbing around 20 cents a gallon.

“I can't speak for the retailers, I can't, but I have to say, given the magnitude of the incident that happened over the weekend, I would say 10 years ago we would have seen $3 gasoline like that,” said Seng.

Seng says that prices have already come down for both crude oil and gasoline. He says what happens next is up in the air.

The problem becomes what is the reaction to what has occurred. While we hear a lot of talk that the U.S. is energy independent, are we really? Seng says not completely.

As of now, we produce about 12.5 million barrels of oil a day and consume about 17.5 million. That’s roughly two-thirds of the county’s need.

The U.S. still imports and exports with the global market, including Saudi Arabia. However, on a very small scale.

“If you shut off all the oil wells tomorrow and we stopped importing oil, we could still run our refineries for two months,” explains Seng.

As for the Oklahoma economy, higher gas prices are not always a bad thing since our state economy is highly dependent on the energy sector.

Higher prices can lock in additional revenue for companies and spur economic development, because of the gross production tax. However, Seng says there is a fine line.

“There's a balance somewhere," said Seng. "I think once you put a 'three' in front of it though, you're hurting everyone.”

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