Expert says war
with Iraq may lower
isle gas prices

Associated Press

War in Iraq will not benefit American oil companies and could lead to lower gasoline prices in Hawaii, which does not import oil from the Middle East, according to an energy expert.

Fereidun Fesharaki, of the East-West Center in Honolulu, said Hawaii refines crude oil that comes mainly from Alaska, Indonesia and Malaysia.

"Hawaii's supply will not be affected," said Fesharaki, who also works as a consultant for oil companies.

Fesharaki's analysis of the state's gas supply, in a report released by the center this weekend, agreed with most of the testimony at a state House Committee on War Preparedness hearing last month. But predictions on the price of gasoline have varied.

"We expect the price of oil to rise initially, but we expect it to come down quickly to perhaps 30 percent lower than present prices," Fesharaki said.

Fears that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein will blow up the country's oil fields to keep them from falling into American hands could cut off supplies, but should be "able to be fixed in three to six months," Fesharaki said.

An analysis of world oil supply shows that Saudi Arabia and other countries have enough excess capacity to make up for any loss of Iraqi oil exports, he said. The Venezuelan oil strike is denying more oil to the market than any resulting losses from Iraq.

"Iraq is not that critical to the oil supply in the short term, but Iraq and Venezuela together will stretch the markets," he said.

The national average for regular unleaded gasoline on Saturday was $1.67 per gallon, according to AAA. Average per gallon prices in Hawaii ranged from $1.87 in Honolulu to $2.01 in Hilo and $2.15 in Wailuku.

East-West Center

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