5 Ways BP's Oil Spill Will Cost You (Slide 5 of 5)

Last Updated Jul 30, 2010 2:13 PM EDT

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Consumer Goods Prices Could Rise

A cargo ship loading up in New Orleans, one of the largest ports in the U.S.  |  © Getty Images

The Gulf Coast is a center for shipping, handling cargo ranging from soybeans and grain to rubber, leather, and coffee (more than 60 percent of U.S. grain goes through New Orleans.) The Coast Guard reports that damage from the spill has so far had little impact on shipping in and out of The Big Easy or other port cities such as Biloxi and Mobile, but that could change if the oil begins to impair the area's shipping lanes.

Charles Clowdis, the Managing Director of North American Markets at IHS Global Insight, says that if ships get diverted, they'll begin to charge carrying costs that would end up getting passed along to consumers. In the worst case scenario, goods would have to get shipped by truck or rail instead. You could then see price increases on a plethora of products, from bananas to shoes.

Another danger is that if the oil slick moves into the Southwest Passage, the canal that runs from New Orleans to the Gulf of Mexico, ships could become contaminated with oil and would need to be cleaned by high pressure hoses, causing significant delays into and out of port.

"It's going towards a bad end," says Clowdis.

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