ENGLEWOOD, Colo., March 6 (UPI) -- U.S. consumers paying $5 per gallon at gasoline pumps would be a serious economic setback but it is not a very likely one soon, IHS Inc. economists said.
"If there is a serious oil supply disruption in the Middle East and Brent crude prices top $150 a barrel, pushing the national average for gasoline prices to $5 … We would be staring recession in the face. But we are not near that point now," said a report from the economic research firm based in Colorado, formerly known as Information Handling Services.
At a conference in Houston, IHS Chief Economist Nariman Behravesh said there was "nothing inevitable" about the national average price of gasoline reaching $5 per gallon. Media reports that declare it is a foregone conclusion are wrong, he said.
CNBC reported Tuesday some areas are already reporting prices near or above $5 per gallon.
In New York City prices for premium gas have topped the $5 mark. Prices are also higher, on average, in Alaska, California and Hawaii, where statewide prices average more than $4 per gallon.
Comparatively, prices remain low in other states, such as Wyoming and Colorado where price averages are less than $3.25 per gallon.
Many experts say prices will spike if supplies are disrupted due to economic sanctions imposed on Iran for its alleged nuclear weapons program.
Prices at the pump are already escalating quickly, climbing an average of 1 cent a day for the past month.
To reach $5 per gallon by Memorial Day, 83 days away, prices would have to climb even quicker than that.