By Denise Koch

BALTIMORE (WJZ) — There is an economic side to the escalating violence in Iraq. The country is OPEC’s second largest producer of oil. If Sunni Muslim militants gain control of the oil fields, that could drastically affect supply.

Denise Koch reports the unrest is already having an effect on prices at the pump.

“I have definitely seen an increase and I’m worried about it because we’re headed to Colorado tomorrow,” said driver Bill Miller.

Yes, Bill. You’re seeing correctly. Gas prices have gone up nationally two cents in just one week. Here in Maryland, it’s about three cents on average. A gallon of regular is now $3.68.

This is being directly attributed to the conflict in Iraq.

“Unfortunately, while we typically see gas prices go down during the month of June, if the conflict in Iraq continues, we’ll continue to see crude oil prices go up,” said Ragina Averella, AAA Mid-Atlantic. “They closed at $107.26 a barrel on Friday, which is really high. And unfortunately, if the conflict continues, we’ll continue to see crude oil prices rise as well as gas prices.”

The only good news: so far, most of the fighting has been in the northern region of Iraq. Most of the oil is produced in the south. So far, there has been no disruption in supply, which would dramatically affect prices.

“I try not to worry about the things I can’t control, and gas prices are one of them. So I don’t even look at them,” said driver Julia Edwards. “I was with my dad recently and he said, ‘Boy, gas is high.'”

High, and with the potential to go even higher as we approach the Fourth of July.

AAA says if you go to their website you can compare gas prices and find the cheapest station near you. Click here for more information.

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