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Death could cause high fuel prices to run out of gas

When a multitude of factors drove gas prices up, some industry officials said it took the death of one man to start bringing them back down.

Crude oil prices dropped by $13.62 a barrel last week after President Barack Obama announced Osama bin Laden’s death on May 1.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s website, the nationwide oil price average was $97.18 a barrel and the retail gasoline price average was almost $3.97 on Monday. The average for Columbus as also about $3.97, according to columbusgasprices.com.

Kimberly Schwind, public relations manager for AAA, said a decrease in the cost of oil might level gas prices. Unrest in the Middle East and Northern Africa, the weak U.S. dollar and a switch from winter to summer gas blends could be contributing to the high costs of gas, Schwind said.

Right now, the U.S. is experiencing a rare drop in oil prices.

“We did see crude oil dip after bin Laden,” Schwind said.

According to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report, oil was reported at $99.68 a barrel on Friday, which is the first time oil has been below $100 a barrel since March 16.

The report said the “speculation of future supply issues” and analysts’ suggestions that oil is overbought, could be contributing to the decline in crude oil prices.

The report also said there was a $3 drop immediately after Obama’s announcement of bin Laden’s death.

The oil market affects gas prices because gas is a product of refined oil. Crude oil is sold on the market, refined and distilled and then sold to distributing gas companies.

Schwind said the second week of May typically has the highest reported gas prices.

“It’s really hard to say if (gas) prices will go up,” Schwind said. “This year seems to be so different. It’s normal to see gas prices go up this time of year, but not extreme. It’s very hard to predict where gas prices are going to go.”

Josh McKinney, a second-year in architecture, said he drives his ‘95 Acura about 25 miles every day and fills up every week and a half. McKinney said the last time he filled up, it cost $50 for about 10 to 11 gallons of gasoline.

“We have to travel and get to work,” McKinney said. “We rely on oil and it’s a foreign commodity.”

McKinney said he doesn’t think gas prices are affecting him as much now as they could in the future.

“I expect (the price of gas) will go up again,” McKinney said. “We rely on foreign oil and we have a conflict over there.”

The unrest in the Middle East and Northern Africa has created an unstable market for oil, which makes it hard to predict crude oil prices, Schwind said.

Lucia Dunn, an Ohio State economics professor, said psychological issues are a large factor in the unstable oil market. She said regions such as the Middle East speculate on how world issues affect the global oil supply and their perceptions determine how they buy and sell crude oil.

“This (psychological issues) will rouse providers to raise prices ahead of time,” Dunn said. “We could give you lots of scenarios about the Middle East.”

Alex Street, a third-year in computer science and engineering, said he just bought a new car and is going “to pretend” like he doesn’t have it.

“Because gas prices are ridiculous,” Street said. “The way I’m going to function is to act like I don’t have (a car).” 

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