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CNN Today

Consumers Feel the Pinch as Plunging Temperatures, OPEC Cuts Send Price of Oil Soaring

Aired January 27, 2000 - 1:27 p.m. ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

NATALIE ALLEN, CNN ANCHOR: As temperature plunge across the nation, heating oil prices are rising. Earlier this week, President Clinton released $45 million in emergency heating fuel funds.

Here's CNN's Ed Garsten.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ED GARSTEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From home heating oil, to jet fuel, to the gas that powers your car, the prices have hit their highest level in years for a consumers in a frosty mood.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Very high, nasty.

GARSTEN: The reason is simple. The nations that belong to the oil cartel OPEC have cut production, setting the price of crude soaring.

DAVID SOWERBY, FINANCIAL ANALYST: A year ago, oil prices were down lose to 11, $12 a barrel, and as we sit here today they're closer to $30 a barrel.

GARSTEN: The average price of unleaded gasoline nationwide is $1.32 a gallon, up almost four cents in the last week. Home heating oil prices have risen 40 cents a gallon or more in the last week after the worst weather of the winter hit the Midwest and East Coast, and that translates into a huge increase in a homeowner's heating oil bill.

BRIAN DONNELLY, ATLAS OIL COMPANY: An average customer will get three, four, five deliveries a year, so you're looking at 400 bucks of incremental costs per year.

GARSTEN: Several airlines are adding ticket surcharges of between three and $10 each way on domestic flights to offset their fuel costs.

(on camera): With hopes of lowering oil prices, some members of Congress are turning to President Clinton. They want him to sell some of the nation's 567 million-barrel strategic petroleum reserve, oil that was set aside after the Arab oil embargo in the '70s.

(voice-over): But if OPEC remains committed to tightening the valve on production, some experts predict oil prices could gush over the $30-a-barrel mark just in time for the summer travel season.

Ed Garsten, CNN, Taylor, Michigan.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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