Unrest in Libya could mean increased prices at the pump. Oil prices have already hit $100 a barrel as protesters fight with Libya's Moammar Gadhafi-backed forces. The $100 mark was the highest price point that oil has hit since Oct. 2, 2008, the Associated Press reports. Gas prices are already on the rise this year, and the dispute in Libya has people wondering if we could see prices of $5 per gallon at the pump.
Libya has the largest oil reserve in Africa. Due to the Libya protests, Total announced that it has already started to wind down oil production in Libya. Other oil companies have already wound down production, the Associated Press reports. There are estimates that 1 million barrels per day have been shut down so far, according to Barclays Capital.
As far as the impact at the pump in the U.S., it seems that the unrest is more likely to disrupt European markets. The U.S. imports less than 1 percent of its total crude imports from Libya, though even a small percentage can be enough to cause tension in markets and send prices up. In fact, analysts say concerns about Libya protests and violence in oil producing counties has created a "fear premium" of about $10 per barrel of oil, the Associated Press reports. As we see time and time again, perception becomes reality.
So what can you do about this? Unfortunately, for most people, not much. (Chances are you don't have an underground tank that you can use to stock up on gasoline.) You might want to research mass transportation options or consider carpooling, if an increase in gas prices could put a major dent in your wallet.