By CASEY HARPER
THE CENTER SQUARE
(The Center Square) – Gas prices have continued to rise over the past two weeks, and now OPEC has announced a major decision that will likely drive those prices higher.
OPEC said Wednesday that it would reduce oil production beginning in November by 2 million barrels per day. OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries largely based in the Mideast, said in a statement it made the decision “in light of the uncertainty that surrounds the global economic and oil market outlooks, and the need to enhance the long-term guidance for the oil market, and in line with the successful approach of being proactive, and preemptive…”
President Joe Biden helped lower prices by releasing one million barrels per day from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve since April, but the reserves – meant for emergency situations like natural disasters or in the event of war – are now near decades-low levels.
“In any event, we will continue to take steps to protect American consumers,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said during Tuesday’s press briefing. “Our focus, and it’s been very clear for the past several, several months, has been on taking every step to ensure markets are sufficiently supplied to meet demand for a growing global economy.”
President Biden told reporters earlier this week he was “concerned” about OPEC’s announcement, calling it “unnecessary.”
According to AAA, the current national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline is $3.83, up from $3.77 a week ago. The average price in California is $6.42, while in Santa Barbara the average price is $6.36. The recent rise in gas prices is due in part to the effects of Hurricane Ian.
Patrick De Haan, a petroleum expert with Gas Buddy, said he expects OPEC’s decision to drive prices up 15 to 30 cents per gallon.
“Ouch… and up goes oil after OPEC recommendation…” he wrote on Twitter. “It’s VERY nuanced right now because of refinery kinks, but high [gas prices] will soon fall in the West Coast, Great Lakes and others where they exploded, while rising in the Gulf, South, [Southeast], East Coast and [Northeast] because of OPEC’s decision.”
Prices hit an all-time high in June, surpassing $5 per gallon before declining. Current prices, though, are still much higher than when President Biden took office. The average price one year ago was $3.20 per gallon.
News-Press Associate Editor Matt Smolensky contributed to this report.