With gas prices expected to continue making news in coming months, University of Alabama experts are available for commentary. Contact the experts listed here directly or call Chris Bryant at 205/348-8323 or Bill Gerdes at 205/348-8318 in media relations for assistance or additional sources.
Dr. Peter Clark (205/348-1682), professor of chemical engineering, UA College of Engineering:
Rising gas prices are not likely to create many jobs within the petroleum industry and will not greatly affect the driving or buying habits of the typical, middle-class driver, Clark predicts.
“I don’t think the hiring trends in the petroleum industry are going to go crazy any time soon because I think everyone thinks the price of oil is going to drop,” Clark said.
“The first people who would be affected would be consultants,” said Clark, who has taught chemical and petroleum engineering classes at UA and elsewhere for more than 20 years. Because the market is so volatile, petroleum companies are reluctant to invest in new long-term employees, he said. “The way not to do that is through consultants.
“This is a supply shortage. It’s caused not by a lack of production capacity, but because OPEC is producing less than the world demand. It’s not that they can’t produce it,” said Clark.
If the price of oil were to remain near the $32 a barrel mark, “everybody would be drilling,” he said, and OPEC doesn’t want that kind of competition. While OPEC does control a fair amount of the world’s oil supply, Russia and several other non-OPEC nations have under-utilized oil reserves.
Gas-guzzling SUV’s are not likely to decrease in popularity, Clark predicted. “People who are already paying $30,000-$50,000 for a vehicle don’t really care if gas is $1.20 or $1.40. Gasoline is only a small fraction of the cost of operating that type of automobile.” An increase of 20 cents per gallon results in less than $20 a month for a driver who drives 20 miles a day in an automobile that gets 10 miles to the gallon, he said. “This is not gong to hurt the middle class. It will, however, hurt those on the lower end of the economic ladder.”
More UA sources
Dr. Jay Sterling (205/348-8945), associate professor of management and marketing in UA’s Culverhouse College of Commerce and Business Administration:
An expert in product distribution, transportation and supply chain management, Sterling can discuss the effect of gas prices on the trucking and airline industries as well as its impact on distribution for businesses of all types.
Drs. Sam Addy (205/348-6191) and Ahmad Ijaz (205/348-2955), both with the Center for Business and Economic Research:
Economists Addy and Ijaz are available to address economic issues related to gas and oil.
Dr. Robert Robicheaux (205/348-6183), Bruno Professor of Retailing in UA’s Culverhouse College of Commerce and Business Administration:
Robicheaux can comment on the effect of prices at the pump on consumers and other retail issues.
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