Gas Prices Nationwide Shoot Up From Storm Impact
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Gas prices shot up across the United States as Hurricane Harvey reached Texas, with the current national average gas price reaching $2.37, four cents more expensive than last week and one of the largest one-week gas price surges seen this summer.
Approximately a quarter of oil refining capacity in the Gulf Coast was taken offline, according to forecasts by Oil Price Information Services. Eight refineries shut down, and over the weekend Valero reported that its refineries in Corpus Christi and Three Rivers, Texas, sustained "substantial refinery impacts" and it is evaluating infrastructure to determine when they can resume operations.
"No doubt, Harvey has impacted operations and access to refineries in the Gulf Coast. However, a clear understanding of overall damage at the refineries is unknown," said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. "Despite the country's overall oil and gasoline inventories being at or above 5-year highs, until there is clear picture of damage and an idea when refineries can return to full operational status, gas prices will continue to increase."
On Aug. 27, Magellan Midstream Partners suspended all inbound and outbound refined products and crude oil transportation services on its pipeline systems in the Houston area. The Colonial Pipeline's Gulf Coast pipeline and terminals continue to operate normally. Hurricane Harvey is expected to continue to affect the region through the middle of the week, with an additional 15-25 inches of rain expected over the middle and upper Texas coast through Friday, reported AAA Newsroom.
The Environmental Protection Agency announced that it will waive environmental standards on gasoline for select counties in Texas.
"As in any national or local state of emergency, AAA expects gas prices to be held in check up and down the gasoline supply chain, including prices set by refiners, distributors and dealers unless there is a clearly justifiable reason for an increase," Casselano said.
The largest weekly price increases were seen in Indiana (where the average rose 11 cents), Ohio (9 cents), Florida (7 cents), Michigan (7 cents), Illinois (6 cents), Washington (6 cents), Georgia (5 cents), South Carolina (5 cents), Washington, D.C. (4 cents) and Texas (4 cents).
The nation's least expensive markets are South Carolina ($2.11), Alabama ($2.12), Arkansas ($2.12), Mississippi ($2.12), Oklahoma ($2.13), Missouri ($2.14), Virginia ($2.15), Louisiana ($2.16), Tennessee ($2.16) and Texas ($2.17).
After Harvey, gas prices in the South and Southeast are three cents more expensive on average. Outages at gas stations in Texas have been reported. While the statewide average rose four cents there, prices vary in cities hit hardest by the storm. All West Coast states saw price increases over the week, with Hawaii ($3.09 per gallon) and California ($2.99 per gallon) leading the nation's most expensive markets. States in the Rockies also saw price increases ranging from one to four cents per gallon.
In the Great Lakes region and Central U.S., all states but Missouri saw price increases, and Indiana saw the largest price increase at 11 cents from one week ago. Gas prices remained fairly stable in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, though prices rose in North Carolina and Washington, D.C., and decreased in Delaware and West Virginia.
Another storm is forecast to head up the East Coast and turn into Tropical Storm Irma. Although it is not expected to be a threat to South Carolina, where it is expected to hit early next week, potentially heavy rains and strong winds could cause prices to spike at retail and wholesale levels, the news outlet reported.