Blaming gas price hikes on Iran is avoiding the obvious

Guest Editorial
If this was anything but gasoline, no one would swallow the explanations we get year after year as the price soars. But we have been taken down this road so many times we’re starting to believe just about anything we’re told, apparently.

In trying to explain why pump prices have jumped to as much as $3.99 a gallon in just two weeks, lots of commentators have blamed the oldest bogeyman in the book — “political tensions” in the Mideast. When aren’t there political tensions in the Mideast?

This time around, Western nations are said to fear that Iran is building a nuclear weapon. That’s in place of Israeli/Palestinian tensions or unrest in Syria or the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011 or whatever.

Ah.

But that does nothing to explain why prices jacked almost exactly a year ago, too.

Prices surged to $3.37 a gallon in late February of 2011; that’s about 60 cents less than the current high; gas … was about $3.40 in mid-February of this year. Oil prices were around $103 a barrel last year, compared to the current $107 a barrel last week.

But wait a minute.

Gregg Laskoski, senior petroleum analyst for price-tracker Gasbuddy.com, recently said, “We generally expect prices to go up at this time of year.” March Madness?

And Walt Breitinger, who writes a Record-Eagle commodities column, said North America is presently “awash” in crude oil supplies, but there’s less refined gasoline available as speculators sit on supplies to see how the Middle East situation plays out.

Sooooo …

North America is “awash” in crude?

The United States is currently a net exporter of crude oil?

The U.S. does not import a single drop of oil from Iran?

There is less refined gasoline because speculators are sitting on supplies?

There is a “refinery capacity bottleneck” around the Midwest?

And we still blame unrest in the Middle East?

Step away from the ledge. We’re “awash” in crude, “speculators” are sitting on supplies, there is a refinery “bottleneck” and we wonder why prices are sky high?

Hmmm. If the commodity in question was ice cream and we found out there was more than enough cow product to make as much ice cream as we could eat but some plants have been purposely taken out of production to jack up prices, would we still blame Iran?

Of course not. We’d blame the people who are to blame — in the case of gasoline, that means oil companies, refiners and speculators.

To believe otherwise is to swallow the same old malarkey. But that’s what we do.

— TRAVERSE CITY RECORD-EAGLE

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