After rising above $80 a barrel in May for the first time since November 2014, Brent crude oil prices have receded a bit in the past two weeks.
Still, for Louisiana’s hard-hit energy industry, the market’s brief flirtation with that long-elusive benchmark offered some reason for optimism, even though oil producers in the Gulf of Mexico are proceeding cautiously.
“Our economy has leveled off, and we’re looking for higher prices that will help us, but it all comes down to exploration in the Gulf,” said Frank Fink, the economic development director for oil-dependent St. Mary Parish.
Already, consumers are feeling the impacts of rising prices at the pump. With the summer driving season approaching, gasoline prices have been on the rise, and regular unleaded gas is forecast to average $2.90 a gallon this summer, nearly 50 cents higher than last summer.
But industry analysts and experts believe the recent run-up in crude prices was a symptom of issues facing oil-producing countries Iran and Venezuela, rather than a result of OPEC’s ongoing effort — first implemented in January 2017 — to rein in a global oil glut.
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