Hurricane Irma Takes Toll on Florida's Gas Stations

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Hurricane Irma Takes Toll on Florida's Gas Stations

09/12/2017
AAA national average gas prices
Today, 69 percent of gas stations in the U.S. are selling gas at $2.50 or more. Only seven percent list gas at $3 or more.

NATIONAL REPORT — Florida is racing to refill its drained gas stations so millions of residents can return to their homes following mass evacuations caused by Hurricane Irma.

At least 60 percent of the gas stations in Miami-Fort Lauderdale and Gainesville are without fuel, while roughly half of the stations in Jacksonville, Tampa, West Palm Beach and Fort Myers are empty, reported Crossroads Today.

Getting Florida’s ports reopened to receive fuel shipments is key to fixing the gas shortages. The Sunshine State has few refineries of its own, making it reliant on tankers and barges to meet virtually all of its need for fuel. Ports are unlikely to open until Sept. 12, at the earliest.

According to Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy, “Without the ports, there’s no fueling. It’s likely the number of gas outages will rise before they start falling.

While Hurricane Harvey forced the shutdown of the Port of Corpus Christi in Texas for a record six days, Florida appears to have avoided the worst-case scenario that Irma threatened. That suggests Florida’s ports may recover faster than Texas ports did, the news outlet reported.

"My hunch is those gasoline outage numbers are going to drop very, very fast. By next week, things should be very close to normal," said Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis at the Oil Price Information Service.

Port Tampa Bay, Florida’s largest port, only suffered “very minimal” damage, port officials reported. While Port Tampa Bay remains shut to vessels until the Coast Guard approves its reopening, on the morning of Sept. 11, petroleum trucks were approved to resume transporting fuel from the port.

Port Everglades, located in Fort Lauderdale, said in a statement on Sept. 11 that it is assessing damage and plans to reopen to vessels following approval from the U.S. Coast Guard. The port accounts for one-fifth of Florida's energy requirements and receives more than 12.5 million gallons of petroleum products each day, Crossroads Today reported.

Recovery efforts may be hampered by Hurricane Jose, which could move near Florida later this week, making “the window to make repairs or get deliveries … quite small,” commented Hillary Stevenson, director of oil markets at research firm Genscape.

Other logistical challenges stand in the way of restoring Florida’s gas stations, including: damage from the hurricane, blockage from road closures, and widespread power outages.

"We need to get their power restored in order for the fuel to begin running in their pumps," said James Miller, director of communications for the Florida Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association.

Prior to the storm’s landfall, Florida officials tried to ease the gas shortage. The state's ports prioritized fuel shipments and Governor Rick Scott provided police escorts to tanker trucks. Scott also encouraged gas stations along evacuation routes to stay open late by offering gas station workers police escorts to make sure they got out before the storm hit, according to Crossroads Today.

Prices at the Pump

For the first time in more than 15 days, the national gas price average is leveling out despite Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irma making landfall in the southeast.

Holding steady for five days at $2.67, the national gas price average on Sept. 11 is just three cents more expensive on the week. With a seven cents increase, Florida, Indiana and Georgia were among the top 10 states who saw the largest gas price increases on the week, while some states saw gas prices drop by one to six cents, including Ohio, Kansas, Kentucky, Missouri, Delaware and Oklahoma, reported AAA Newsroom.

Today, 69 percent of gas stations in the U.S. are selling gas at $2.50 or more. Only seven percent list gas at $3 or more.

The nation’s largest weekly increases are seen in: Florida (7 cents), Indiana (7 cents), Georgia (7 cents), Arizona (6 cents), Michigan (6 cents), New Hampshire (6 cents), Montana (6 cents), New York (5 cents), Nevada (5 cents) and Rhode Island (5 cents).

The nation’s top ten least expensive markets are: Oklahoma ($2.36), Louisiana ($2.40), Arkansas ($2.41), Arizona ($2.42), Missouri ($2.42), Kansas ($2.45), Mississippi ($2.47), Ohio ($2.48), Minnesota ($2.50) and New Mexico ($2.51).

These are the numbers for each U.S. region:

South and Southeast

Gas prices in the South and Southeast continue to increase, although the jumps are not as dramatic as seen last week: Florida (7 cents), Georgia (7 cents), Alabama (5 cents), Tennessee (4 cents) and South Carolina (4 cents).

With no refineries in Florida, Hurricane Irma threatens already tightened gasoline supply levels caused by Hurricane Harvey. As Gulf Coast refineries come back online and increase operating rates, the Colonial Pipeline — which provides gasoline from Houston to Greensboro, N.C — is experiencing delivery delays of up to a week to Mid-Atlantic states. As a result, many South and Southeast states will likely see continued gas price increases stemming from Harvey and now Irma, according to AAA.

Mid-Atlantic and Northeast

Gas prices in states across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast have seen moderate increases, typically in the range of one to three cents, following last week’s double-digit increases. New Hampshire ($2.69) leads the region in increases, with the average price for unleaded gasoline rising six cents since last week. New York ($2.83), Rhode Island ($2.75), Vermont ($2.76) and Maine ($2.74), are close behind as the average price for unleaded gasoline in each state rose by a nickel since last Monday, Sept. 4. Gas prices in Delaware fell one cent to $2.69.

Great Lakes and Central States

The Great Lakes and Central States region is seeing both increases and decreases at the pump. As Indiana (7 cents) and Michigan (6 cents) pay more for gas on the week, four states are selling cheaper gas: Ohio (6 cents), Kentucky (4 cents), Kansas (3 cents) and Missouri (3 cents). The volatility stems mostly from Hurricane Harvey’s impact on gasoline supply distribution and a 1 million bbl drop in the region’s gasoline supply. The EIA’s latest report shows Midwest gasoline inventories remain steady at 51 million bbl.

West Coast

Compared to the rest of the country, West Coast states are seeing small price increases on the week in: Arizona (6 cents), Nevada (5 cents), Alaska (5 cents), Washington (4 cents), California (4 cents), Oregon (2 cents) and Hawaii (1 cents). All states, except Arizona, land on this week’s top 10 states with the most expensive gas.

Rockies

All states saw gas prices increase on the week: Montana (6 cents), Utah (4 cents), Wyoming (2 cents), Colorado (1 cent) and Idaho (1 cents). On average, gas is selling for $2.63 in the Rockies.