What’s left of Hurricane Harvey is still soaking states and consumers, as gasoline prices rise to their highest levels in more than two years.
AAA says gas prices could climb higher as refineries and pipelines that were shut down during the storm come back on line and Labor Day Weekend travel creates higher demand.
“Consumers will see a short-term spike in the coming weeks with gas prices likely topping $2.50 a gallon, but quickly dropping by mid to late September,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “AAA does not expect refineries to be offline for months, as early reports indicate minimal to no significant damage to Corpus Christi and Houston refineries.”
Drivers have seen big spikes in the average price of a gallon of gas this week:
▪ In the Gulfport-Biloxi-Pascagoula area the average price rose from $2.13 on Monday to $2.30 on Friday, and increase of 17 cents a gallon in four days.
▪ The national average rose from $2.33 on Monday to $2.52 on Friday morning, an average of 19 cents a gallon.
Even with this big jump in price, Mississippi continues to have among the lowest prices for gasoline in the country. Before this week, the most South Mississippi drivers paid for a gallon of gas over the last two years was $2.17 in April. The highest national average was $2.42 in late April.
On Wednesday evening, the Department of Energy reported that 10 Gulf Coast refineries remained shut down, according to AAA. Six refineries had begun assessing damage and restarting and two refineries were operating at reduced rates.
Casselano said the shut downs don’t indicate a shortage of gasoline supplies. Although there has a rush on gas stations in some areas, she said, “Overall stocks in the Gulf are above average levels and will be available to drivers once power is restored and area roads are cleared.”
To help alleviate concerns about fuel supply shortages, the Environmental Protection Agency waived the requirement for low volatility conventional gasoline and allowed “winter blend” gasoline to be sold early in Mississippi and 11 other states, AAA said.
Where gas prices have spiked
States with the largest increases since Friday, when Harvey came ashore in Texas, include:
- + 19 cents in South Carolina $2.26
- + 18 cents in Delaware $2.38
- + 17 cents in Kentucky $2.42
- + 16 cents in Georgia $2.39, Missouri $2.30 and North Carolina $2.36
- + 14 cents in Maryland $2.43
- + 13 cents in Alabama $2.22 and Kansas $2.34
- + 12 cents in Mississippi $2.21, Oklahoma $2.24, Tennessee $2.26 and West Virginia $2.47
- + 11 cents in Arkansas $2.21, Iowa $2.40, Michigan $2.59, Texas $2.26 and Virginia $2.24