Gasoline prices right now are as low as they are going to be and are due for a climb due to refinery down times, says Joe Petrowski, CEO of Gulf Oil.
"Refining margins are as low as they’ve been in the last 10 years and I think they’re as low as they’re going to go. We’re seeing refineries shut down here on the East Coast. I think that will portend for higher retail gas prices, at least for the next 90 days," Petrowski tells CNBC.
"We’ll probably be in the $3.50s rather shortly. Whether we get to $4, we’ll have to see an event or something to happen there," such as Iran making good on threats to block the Strait of Hormuz.
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Iran has threatened to shut down the Strait of Hormuz to conduct military exercises in protest of sanctions from the West for allegedly developing a nuclear program.
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Tehran has even hurled threats at the U.S., warning it to keep its navy out of the area.
Oil prices have also risen on healthier U.S. economic data, including the recent Institute of Supply Management's manufacturing index, which rose to 53.9 in December from 52.7 in November.
A reading of 50 or more signals economic growth, and economists participating in a Bloomberg survey were forecasting 53.5 for December.
A growing economy needs more oil and gas to operate, yet some say crude may have spiked a little too high lately.
"Current global economic activity and oil market fundamentals do not justify today's elevated price levels," says energy analyst Richard Soultanian at NUS Consulting, according to the Associated Press.
However, "it's clear that the (Iran) situation will not resolve itself quickly and markets will be driven largely by headline risk and not fundamentals for the foreseeable future."
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