Trips to the gas station could get a whole lot more painful soon, now that the unrest sweeping the Middle East has hit an oil-producing nation. Crude prices shot up 7% yesterday, and were still rising this morning, after BP and Norway’s Statoil evacuated workers from Libya, USA Today reports. “If this thing escalates, and there’s a good chance that there’d be a shift in supplies, $5 gas isn’t out of the question,” one senior energy analyst says.
Gas prices are already up 20% from last year’s levels, and within the next few days are expected to rise another 2.5% to $3.25. Analysts think old-fashioned consumption will drive it to between $3.75 and $4 by midsummer, even without additional political upheaval. “We have all the wrong things working together at the right time,” says another analyst. If unrest hits other oil-producing nations, “you’re easily talking $5 gas.” (Read more oil prices stories.)