HOUSTON – As U.S. gas prices hit record highs amid Russia's war on Ukraine, energy industry insiders say Americans can expect soaring prices to linger at least as long as Russian President Vladimir Putin's brutal invasion lasts.
"It's hard to see how they'll go down in the short term with all of the uncertainty that's brought about by the conflict," former Acting Deputy Energy Secretary Jeff Kupfer told FOX Business.
And prices could go up even more if other countries join the U.S. in banning Russian oil, which makes up only a small percentage of the American market, according to Kupfer.
"If it's simply a question of the U.S. banning Russian oil, that's a relatively small blip on the overall oil market in the world," he said. "However, if other countries begin to join in, then I do think it could have a significant impact and prices could continue to rise."
Kupfer, who served in the George W. Bush administration and runs the right-leaning energy and conservation group ConservAmerica, spoke at the CERAWeek by S&P Global conference in Houston.
The global energy conference comes at a critical time for the industry because of Putin's war. The conflict is leading many to reconsider key questions on energy security and fossil fuels, particularly in Europe, which is highly dependent on Russian energy.
Port of Corpus Christi CEO Sean Strawbridge told FOX Business that the volatility caused by the Russia-Ukraine war could lead to even higher prices in the near term. But he expects prices to eventually even out.
"Markets are driven by emotion. They're not driven by rational, empirical decision-making," Strawbridge said. He added that he would not be surprised by oil at $140 per barrel or more.
"It's really emotions that are driving these markets. Do I think that we still have more upward mobility in pricing? Absolutely. I don't think we've seen the peak just yet," Strawbridge added. "But I think as we start to plateau, as we start to see economies cool and as we see production grow, I think we will start to see a plateau."
American Exploration and Production Council CEO Anne Bradbury also said high gas prices aren't "going away any time soon." She said that underscores the need for the U.S. to step up production in the long term.
"What we need more than ever is more domestic production and policies that will facilitate that," she said.
American Petroleum Institute CEO Mike Sommers agreed with Bradbury. "The best way to lower gas prices over the long term is to continue to incentivize American development here in the United States" and energy trade with Canada, Sommers said.
"That's where our focus should be," Sommers added. "It should not be on cutting a deal with Venezuela or Iran."
Gas prices hit record highs across the United States this week, jumping to an average of $4.252 per gallon of regular unleaded, according to AAA. Diesel is also at a record high of $4.883.
Gas is most expensive in California, according to AAA, at $5.573. It's cheapest in Kansas and Oklahoma at $3.792 and $3.794.
FOX Business' Breck Dumas contributed to this report.