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Coast drivers will feel a hit from Harvey

Regular gasoline at the Chevron station at Ford Street and Pass Road in Gulfport was selling for $2.05 Friday afternoon, which was below the average across South Mississippi. Other gas stations on the Coast have already raised the price above $2.10 as Hurricane Harvey disrupts refinery production in Texas.
Regular gasoline at the Chevron station at Ford Street and Pass Road in Gulfport was selling for $2.05 Friday afternoon, which was below the average across South Mississippi. Other gas stations on the Coast have already raised the price above $2.10 as Hurricane Harvey disrupts refinery production in Texas. ttisbell@sunherald.com

Oil platforms in the Gulf and five south Texas refineries potentially are in the path of Hurricane Harvey, and experts say South Mississippi and other states will feel the impact at the gas pump.

All five of the Texas refineries in the Corpus Christi area, which account for 4.2 percent of total U.S. oil refining capacity, were expected to be closed ahead of Harvey, according to AAA. The storm also has the potential to affect the Houston refinery market, home to 11 refineries that represent 14 percent of processing capacity in the U.S.

“A hurricane like this typically causes an increase in fuel purchases in the market and a slowdown in retail demand,” said Jeanette Casselano, spokeswoman for AAA. “Spikes in pump prices due to the effects of hurricanes tend to be brief but dramatic,” she said, and had already started in Texas.

The average price per gallon in the Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula area Monday was $2.09, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge website. While that’s 15 cents higher than this week last year, it’s still historically low and is 24 cents a gallon lower than the national average.

GasBuddy, a website that tracks gasoline prices, reported Friday that some stations in Houston have no gasoline to sell as residents evacuate ahead of the expected landfall of Harvey on Friday night.

The shutdowns of refineries have led wholesale gasoline prices to rise nearly 10 cents per gallon, GasBuddy reports, and warns that the higher prices could hit not just the South but across much of the country.

“While the picture continues to change, one thing is nearly guaranteed,” said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy, “gasoline prices in every state will be impacted to varying degrees over the next one to two weeks, possibly longer, so buckle up and be ready.”

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