White House points finger at speculators

April 20, 2011 at 8:15 AM
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ANNANDALE, Va., April 20 (UPI) -- There's plenty of oil on the market to meet consumer demand meaning speculators are in part to blame for rising prices, the U.S. president said in Virginia.

Crude oil prices are at two-year records in part because of economic recovery in major markets and turmoil in key oil-producing states such as Libya. The price per barrel of oil has made its way to the gas pump where U.S. consumers are paying around $4 per gallon and $10 per gallon in some European markets.

U.S. President Barack Obama, in a speech in Virginia, said it's not a lack of supply that is driving oil prices up on the commodity markets.

"The problem is, is that oil is sold on these world markets, and speculators and people make various bets, and they say, you know what, we think that maybe there's a 20 percent chance that something might happen in the Middle East that might disrupt oil supply, so we're going to bet that oil is going to go up real high," he said. "And that spikes up prices significantly."

Bart Chilton, a member of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission, told the Platts news service that speculation figures into the price at the pump.

"There is a Wall Street premium on gas prices today," Chilton said. "Every time folks fill up their tanks, they can expect that several dollars are due to speculation."

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