ANCHORAGE -

While Alaska typically experiences a seasonal uptick in summer gasoline prices, some Alaskans say they're worried the recent developments in Iraq could impact already higher prices at the pump in Anchorage.

Iraqi oil officials confirmed Thursday that several oil giants including ExxonMobil and BP are evacuating staff members out of the country, even though critics say the areas where oil is being produced for export are far from the fighting.

After nearly 50 years in the gas station business, Nelson Garrett says there is one thing he has come to understand about gas prices.

"I've seen it jump up and down lots of times faster than this," Garrett said. "At least it's only going up 5 cents at a time -- I've seen it go up 10 cents at a time before during a crisis. So it's going to happen; it's always like this."

Garrett's customers, like Alaska Logistics truck driver Steve Younger, say they're worried about the rising tensions in Iraq -- and that Thursday's news of two major oil companies leaving the country may make it worse.

"If we can get some peace in the Middle East, that'd help a lot and of course if they'll help us start pumping in Alaska that should ease the burden as well," Younger said.

While some are concerned, others aren't as quick to forecast doom. Tim Bradner, a natural resources writer for the Alaska Journal of Commerce, has monitored Alaska's gas prices for years.

"It could have eventually a ripple effect on our own oil prices that we sell, that cuts two ways for Alaska," Bradner said. "It raises our price, more money for our state treasury but it could also at some point have an effect on the price of the pump."

Bradner spoke with oil analysts Thursday morning and says it's not time to panic just yet.

"Most people right now don't think it's going to have a huge impact at least for the near term, a price shock but it's a very unusual situation, we could be surprised," Bradner said.

While Alaskans will have to shell out more money for now, Garrett says it's optimism that could help everyone get through the ups and downs.

"This is America, everybody pulls together and we survive everything," Garrett said.

While gas prices are about $4.03 for regular unleaded gasoline in Anchorage, many rural communities in the state are paying well over $7 a gallon.