The threat of the U.S. closing its market to Venezuelan oil because of the political turmoil in the country may affect Jersey gas prices.

The Trump administration hit Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro with financial sanctions Monday after Venezuela held a weekend election that gives Maduro's ruling party extensive power. U.S. officials have called him a dictator, consolidating power through illegitimate elections.

Tom Kloza of The Oil Price Information Service said price "creep" has already been taking place.

"Part of it is Venezuela, part of it is the Saudi/OPEC cuts, part of it is that the investment community is plowing a lot of money into oil futures right now," he said.

"We only import about 730,000 barrels a day, less than one-10th of our needs. But it is one of those things that you have to watch. If it breaks down into bedlam, or what I like to call 'Vendimonium,' down there, it could be very very interesting this month," Kloza said.

Kloza said there is also some nervousness about the hurricane season impacting Gulf refineries. He said hurricanes do more to destroy demand than they do to destroy supply. According to Kloza, "it is the 'rare bird' hurricane that threatens or destroys supply by closing down or damaging refineries in the Gulf."

But, he said, the good news is, "after Labor day, demand drops by something on the order of 6 percent, and you have the formula change, where it is a lot easier to make gasoline on Sept. 15. And those factors should lower pump prices in the state."

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5.

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Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor at New Jersey 101.5.

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