Hurricane Harvey hits Ottawa gas pumps, and prices could go higher

Randall Padilla
August 31, 2017

"About 3 million barrels a day are taken off line, so that's significant, and that ripples its way down through the system", said Eric Stigberg, a spokesman for AAA Northway in Schenectady.

It could take two weeks or longer before big refineries in the Houston area can recover from a record-setting deluge and resume normal operations.

"You saw more of a spike in the last week because of the eclipse, so you likely won't see much more than you have already", Jeanette Casselano, AAA's national director of public relations, said of Pacific Northwest gas prices that have steadily risen in the past month.

Right now, the statewide average for a gallon of regular unleaded gas in North Carolina is $2.22. Some analysts believe the increase could be 10 to 20 cents per gallon, though it would probably fall again as refining capacity comes back online. The increase in price is due to demand from the Great American Eclipse and upcoming Labor Day travel, Conde said. Can they even access what they have? The Environmental Protection Agency has made a decision to waive some of its environmental standards on gasoline for select counties in Texas in an attempt to alleviate the tight and potential shortage of supply.

While most people who travel for Labor Day do so by auto, the airline industry is also seeing an impact from the storm. "We will continue to actively monitor the storm to determine if further actions are needed", spokeswoman Suzanne Wilton said. Outages at gas stations in Texas have been reported. Flooding is expected to continue for several more days. "I feel so sorry for the families who have been displaced by that hurricane in Texas", Palmer said.

One of the results of the shale-derived boom in USA oil and gas production, coupled with a broad leveling-off in domestic energy consumption, is the country's re-emergence as a source of energy exports. However, local demand has also decreased, which partially offsets the reduced supply. These blends are less expensive to produce and could therefore help to curtail extreme price increases at the pump. Prices rose 2 1/2 cents overnight around the nation, according to a release from AAA Idaho.

In the near term, the critical factor for prices will be how quickly USA ports and refineries re-open versus how quickly regional demand recovers. A year ago, the cost of gasoline was about $2.17 a gallon here.

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