It’s a holiday weekend and Harvey ripped through the Texas coastline.
Gas prices have spiked across the country, and Virginians are starting to see the impact of Harvey as Labor Day approaches. This is an increase over Thursday’s average of $2.44 per gallon. Those prices could be in the $3.60 to $3.80 range at Coulee Region marinas that provide dockside gas service, although boaters can trim that to around $3.30 a gallon if they either fuel up at gas stations on the way to the water or cart it in bulk to the dock.
At least two major pipelines, one that ships gasoline across the southern United States and to NY, and another that flows north to Chicago, have been slowed or stopped because of flooding and damage.
Railroad Commissioner Ryan Sitton said Thursday that people are panicking and that’s causing a run on gas and empty fuel pumps.
Two refineries are operating at reduced rates.
The national average was $2.33 before Hurricane Harvey hit Texas.
“Capitalism can be pretty cruel”, he said.
Nationwide, prices averaged $2.45 per gallon for regular gasoline, up 23 cents from the same time previous year, and $2.56 for diesel, up 20 cents, according to the AAA Gas Price Tracker. Diesel prices rose slightly from $2.30 to $2.33 over the week.
Still, South Carolina has some of the cheapest gas prices in the country at $2.37 a gallon. Cleveland’s average price is $2.51, GasBuddy calculated.
On Sunday, average retail prices rose again, to $2.621 a gallon, with weekly increases hitting 18 percent in Georgia and 19 percent in SC, according to motorists advocacy group AAA.
The transportation issue was underlined Thursday, when the U.S. Energy Department announced that it would release a total of 1 million barrels of crude to Phillips 66’s Lake Charles, La., refinery in an effort to ease gasoline supply shortages. He predicts prices could rise another 10 to 12 cents in New Orleans over the next several days. Those lines transports 40 percent of the South’s gasoline.
The nation’s largest refinery, in Port Arthur, Texas, is expected to be closed for at least two weeks, Reuters reported.
“It makes the situation in the Northeast and along the eastern seaboard very precarious”, McTeague said.
Travel time to get the fuel is also a contributing factor in the price increase.
“I’m going right by here, I might as well stop here and save 20 cents a gallon”, Hubbard said.
As for when those prices may go down, AAA estimates by the end of the month.
To be sure, there are always unknowns.
Tankers have been booked to transport gasoline from Europe to the United States, and the fuel is now set to be shipped over even longer distances as the premium of American prices soar relative to those in Asia, the world’s biggest oil market. Consumers have alleged price-gouging in Texas.
“So just remain calm”, said Murray.