Gas prices soar, but experts say Russia-Ukraine crisis could make it worse

The U.S. is not a major importer of Russian oil, but experts say U.S. consumers would feel a domino effect.
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Gas prices across the Delaware Valley are already high, and there's concern they could spike even more.

"I think a full tank was around $35 to $40, now it's around $50 to $55, so it's definitely a toll on my wallet right there," said Chang An of Fishtown, who frequently travels from Philadelphia to Harrisburg for work. His full tank actually turned out to be $60.

Some drivers in South Philadelphia, often on the road for work, are really feeling the change.

"It definitely affects me, mainly because for Uber, you have to really account for the gas, and that's a part of our earnings potential," said Darnell Jones of Overbrook.

"I'm a traveling salesperson for the last 20 years... but this is the bed we made. Build back better, I need an electric car," said Dewey Thomas of Germantown.

According to AAA Mid-Atlantic, the national gas average hit $3.50 for the first time since August 2014.

On Wednesday, Pennsylvania's gas average is $3.70, up a penny overnight and up 5 cents in the last week, according to AAA Mid-Atlantic, which also reported Philadelphia's five-county area gas average is up to $3.76.

"Philadelphia now, Pennsylvania in general, is suffering from the fact that we have high gasoline taxes, and we don't have nearly the amount of refineries to turn crude oil into what we need -- gasoline," said Stephen Schork, principal of The Schork Group in Villanova.

Schork pointed to several factors driving up gasoline prices, including tensions at the Russian-Ukrainian border.

"Russia is a major oil producer so any sort of invasion will be met, God forbid, with perhaps a military push back from the United States and NATO allies, so certainly we'll be talking about the disruption of the flow of oil," Schork said. "NATO and the west will come back with economic sanctions, of course, the Russians will respond in kind, and they're going to cut off their sale of oil. They're going to cut off their sale of natural gas," said Schork.

Prices at the pump are based on world oil prices. The U.S. is not a major importer of Russian oil, but U.S. consumers would feel a domino effect.

Schork discussed another concern. Right now, drivers are consuming the less expensive winter-grade gasoline, but in a matter of months comes the switch-over to summer grade.

"What I'm talking about is the potential for $4 gasoline in Pennsylvania when we head out to the Jersey Shore or up to the Poconos," Schork said.
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