Could oil expert John Hofmeister's prediction of $5 gas in 2012 be too low? As tensions continue to mount over Iran's nuclear program, some analysts say . . . well, maybe.
The online user-generated research group GasBuddy reported a slightly better national average at $3.65 per gallon with Houston clocking in at $3.54 — increases of 31 and 33 cents, respectively, from this time last year.
"People may think we're reporting that the sky is falling, but you can't rule out any of these things happening," petroleum analyst Gregg Laskoski says about current Iran-Israel tensions.
In line with much of Hofmeister's worries about unstable geopolitics, GasBuddy analyst Gregg Laskoski tells CultureMap that the current strife in the Middle East could push gasoline prices considerably higher than $5 a gallon.
"The wild card is that we don't know when or if there will be a peaceful resolution between Israel and Iran," he says. "Secretary of defense Leon Panetta believes there's a better than a 50 percent chance an [Israeli] attack could happen this April, May, or June."
Laskoski warned that a military dispute of this magnitude could spike crude oil prices as high as $200 a barrel. Based on petroleum industry estimates, the cost increase would add $2.50 to existing gasoline prices, which would top them off well above $6 a gallon.
"People may think we're reporting that the sky is falling, but you can't rule out any of these things happening," he says. "Prices this high could be a tremendous catastrophe for the American economy."