Trump’s Iran policy may cause pain at the gas pump ahead of elections

Given those obstacles, crude oil prices could rise enough to offset the seasonal decline in gasoline prices that Americans usually enjoy in the autumn, said Andrew Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates.

If Brent crude rises another $10 to $90 a barrel, the cost of a gallon of regular gasoline would top today’s national average of $2.85, according to Lipow. The same goes for jet fuel and the diesel that powers the nation’s shipping fleet.

“As a result, the consumer should expect to pay more for their airline tickets,” he said. “Higher diesel prices are going to be passed through to the consumer in higher prices for goods and services.”

Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy, expects Americans to see a smaller-than-usual dip in gas prices this fall, due to bullish oil market factors like Trump’s tough stance on Iran.

“The national average usually will decline anywhere from 20 to 35 cents. This year it might only be 5 to 10, maybe 15 cents, if we’re lucky,” he said.

The U.S. government’s Energy Information Administration recently forecast that the national average gasoline price is unlikely to breach $3 a gallon, after topping out at $2.96 at the end of May. But some analysts are not convinced.

“I would take the bet with the EIA that maybe we haven’t seen the highest prices of the year because there’s just too much going on and too may things that can lift gasoline,” said Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis at Oil Price Information Service.

Those include potential outages at refineries that process crude into fuels, or hurricane season storms that knock out part of the nation’s oil drilling, refining and transportation system. Refiners are also focused on making jet fuel and diesel right now because those products have better profit margins than gasoline, according to Kloza.

It’s also uncertain that the Saudis could meet Trump’s request. While Saudi Arabia can certainly increase output, pumping an additional 2 million bpd would be “the biggest public test of Saudi’s spare capacity,” Croft told CNBC on Saturday.

Also on Saturday, the White House clarified that King Salman did not agree to hike output by 2 million bpd, as Trump suggested in his tweet. Instead, the king said Saudi Arabia would tap its spare capacity if and when it becomes necessary, and only after it consults with fellow oil-producing nations.

OPEC’s next official meeting isn’t until Dec. 3, though the group is expected to review market conditions in September at a special gathering announced last month. The Saudis would face the challenge of persuading OPEC members like Iran and Venezuela, which opposed a production hike last month.

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