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Posted: Monday, June 17th 2013 at 6:37am

Oil and gas prices inch up as geopolitical tensions increase

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TAMPA, Fla. - Last week, motorists saw a slight increase in both oil and gas prices after President Barack Obama authorized support and arms for Syrian rebels, increasing tensions in an oil-saturated region.

Although Syria is not a major oil-producing country, it does boarder Iran and Iraq which produce about one-fifth of OPEC's oil output. The value of the dollar fell last week, providing further support for the increase in oil prices.

Other factors that led to the increase in crude costs were the Commerce Department's report that showed a three-month jump in retail sales in May and the fact that fewer jobless claims were filed than initially forecast by the Labor Department.

"Motorists shouldn't be surprised to see retail gas prices creep higher this week as tensions in the Mideast increase and create concerns of supply disruptions," said Jessica Brady, AAA spokeswoman, The Auto Club Group. "Although pump prices are higher now than they were this time last year, the Energy Information Administration expects the summer average price for a gallon of regular retail gas to average $3.53, about the same as last year."

The cost for a barrel of oil closed last Friday at $97.85 on the New York Mercantile Exchange — $1.82 more than the week prior.

The national average price of regular unleaded gasoline is $3.61, 2 cents less than last week. Florida’s average of $3.52 increased 6 cents from last week. Georgia’s average price for a gallon of gas is $3.47, rose 2 cents more than last Sunday. Tennessee’s average of $3.33 increased 3 cents from last week.

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