Will the Venezuelan crisis affect U.S. gas prices?

National gas prices surged last month due to the riots and violence in some of the world’s top petroleum-producing nations: Venezuela, Ukraine, and South Sudan.…

The crisis in Venezuela isn’t a crisis at the gas pump, but you can expect prices to continue climbing. (AP Images)

National gas prices surged last month due to the riots and violence in some of the world’s top petroleum-producing nations: Venezuela, Ukraine, and South Sudan.

Venezuela, which has the larges oil reserves in the entire world, is currently experiencing disastrous internal problems. Its citizens have taken to the streets to protest the socialist Chavez-Maduro regime, which has left the country financially in dire straights—lack of consumer staples like flour and toilet paper, runaway inflation, power outages, and the highest murder rate in the world.

SEE ALSO: Venezuelan govt. takes back Plaza Altamira

Despite the slew of problems that Venezuelans currently face, they can still fill up their gas tanks for less than they would pay for a cup of coffee. At about 6 cents a gallon, gas in Venezuela is the cheapest in the world. Venezuelans rely on the dirt-cheap gas prices so much that they tend to take this subsidy for granted, yet giving away gas for next to nothing is severely hurting the country’s economy.

According to The New York Times, estimates show that the Venezuelan government gives away $30 billion in gasoline and diesel every year, which is one of the main reasons why the inflation rate in Venezuela has skyrocketed.

Not only does Venezuela dole out (almost) free gas to its citizens, but it also provides deeply subsidized oils to Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, and Nicaragua. The Petróleos de Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA) also shows love to the United States, donating $400 million worth of heating oil to poor households in America.

This controversial program, which began under Hugo Chavez’s rule to spite his nemesis, President George W. Bush, was temporarily delayed this year for undisclosed reasons. The approval for the donation finally came through CITGO on February 10, after months of record-breaking cold winter weather.

According to local authorities, several deaths have been reported Wednesday, and a number of others, including National Guardsmen, have been wounded after being shot by unknown assailants in separate incidents in Valencia, Venezuela.

Demonstrators advance towards Bolivarian National Police officers during clashes at an anti-government protest in Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, March 12, 2014. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

There is no doubt that Venezuela is a major player in the world’s oil market, but what does the current instability in Venezuela (along with the troubles in South Sudan and Ukraine) mean for Americans at the gas pump?

Trilby Lundberg, an industry analyst who reports to the Associated Press, expects the prices to continue rising at the pump, despite the fact that U.S. imports of Venezuelan oil are at their lowest since 1985. According to AAA, the prices this spring will continue to rise, with the national average price of gas falling between $3.55-$3.75 per gallon.

Although Americans are currently paying less at the pump than they were one year ago, this small conciliatory fact doesn’t make it any easier for those who still have to shell out $70 to fill up their tanks.

SEE ALSO: Why do they call Eva Golinger Venezuela’s ‘girlfriend’? 

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