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Hurricanes Harvey & Irma impact gas prices

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Mon, Sep 11th 2017 03:00 pm
Prices began to level out until Irma arrived
Information courtesy of AAA of Western and Central New York, GasBuddy
Today's national average price for regular unleaded gasoline is $2.67 per gallon, up 30 cents over the past two weeks and up 4 cents in the past week. One year ago, the price was $2.18. The New York state average is $2.83, up 35 cents in two weeks, and up 5 cents from last week. A year ago, the state average was $2.32.
AAA Western and Central New York reports the following averages:
  • Buffalo - $2.76 (up 11 cents in past week)
  • Rochester - $2.77 (up 10 cents in past week)
  • Rome - $2.78 (up 4 cents in past week)
  • Syracuse - $2.76 (up 8 cents in past week)
Gas prices continue to climb during aftermath of Harvey and due to Irma. After Harvey knocked out a quarter of the U.S.'s refining capacity, gas prices increased across the country. It looked like prices were beginning to level out, as refineries that were impacted by the storm restarted operations and gasoline supply chain issues caused by the storm began to subside.
On the flip side, as the southeastern U.S. gets hit by Irma, gas prices are likely to continue climbing throughout the region. Drivers in Florida and the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina flocked to gas stations last week to fill up gas tanks. This unexpected trend in demand has placed a greater strain on gasoline supply in that region.
It is important to note price increases seen across the country do not reflect a shortage of gasoline supplies, but rather are reacting to the inability to transport fuel out of the Gulf Coast and into other areas, as well as limited production of refined products like gasoline as the refineries attempt to resume activity to pre-storm operations. Once all of the Corpus Christi and Houston refineries are up and running, power restored and roads cleared, gasoline will be able to be transported to areas of Texas and the southeast in need of fuel.
For Hurricane Irma, oil refinery and pipeline shutdowns are not a major concern since there are no facilities in Irma's current projected path through Florida. Instead, gasoline supply and distribution are top of mind. Port Everglades, which is the main seaport servicing South Florida with petroleum products, stated it has at least a week of fuel stored on-site. However, according to the port's website, "port petroleum operations may be interrupted in the event of storm damage to port facilities or the entrance channel for ships."
Motorists can find current gas prices along their route with the free AAA mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. The app can also be used to map a route, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance. Locate gas prices across the country can be found at http://gasprices.aaa.com.
Gasoline price website GasBuddy.com stated the national gas average has increased 30.4 cents per gallon during the past month and stands 48.1 cents per gallon higher than this day one year ago.
GasBuddy historical data states gasoline prices on Sept. 11 in Buffalo have ranged widely over the past five years:
  • $2.26/gallon in 2016
  • $2.55/g in 2015
  • $3.69/g in 2014
  • $3.85/g in 2013
  • $3.99/g in 2012
"Harvey may be long gone, but his wrath continued to drive gasoline prices up in much of the country in the last week. However, the effects are finally starting to weaken as refineries return to production and fuel begins to flow once again from many Houston refineries," said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy. "The national average gasoline price appears to have peaked last week Thursday at $2.67 per gallon and is beginning to slowly decline for the time being. Once again, motorists shouldn't expect to see any impact from Irma on gasoline prices due to the path being a considerable distance from sensitive areas of the energy sector. With summer driving season now over, motorists stand to benefit from falling demand, which will help refineries bring gasoline inventories back to normal and thus gas prices, but as many Americans are now acutely aware, the impact on gas prices can outlive a storm, especially one like Harvey."

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