Hurricane Harvey may not be raining down on the great state of Texas, but gas prices continue to be impacted. At $2.65, the national gas price average is 27 cents more expensive in the week. Motorists in 26 states are paying 25 to 44 cents more for a gallon of unleaded compared to two weeks ago. In fact, every state in the country has seen gas prices increase except four (Alaska, Idaho, Hawaii, and Utah), where prices remain stable. Overall, prices are pennies away from topping the highest price ($2.67, August 15-18, 2015).
The Department of Energy (DOE) reported that Harvey shuttered 10 percent of the Gulf Coast refining capabilities. Eight of those refineries are in the process of restarting, however, none have returned to normal rates, and four are operating at reduced rates. Meanwhile, pipelines forced to take pre-cautionary shut downs caused by Harvey either have resumed operations or are in the process of coming back online. This includes the Colonial Pipeline, which currently has only suspended the Texas operations, while the remainder of the system continues to operate with available supply.
In Houston, refiners are starting to deliver fuel to the market as well as to Dallas and West Texas areas, but it may take some time to resume normal delivery capabilities. While there is no fuel supply shortage, the state is working to overcome distribution problems – including not having enough drivers and equipment to distribute fuel. Additionally, some roads are still inaccessible due to flooding. To help alleviate fuel delivery concerns, truck drivers have been flown in from other states to assist with the distribution.
Can motorist expect another bump with Hurricane Irma? Experts say the far stronger storm doesn’t pose as serious a threat to the U.S. fuel supply, but the federal government and the energy sector will be challenged to meet demands once the recovery begins. One proactive measure the Trump administration was being asked to take ahead of Irma’s impact was issuing a waiver of the Jones Act, a federal law that requires American-flagged vessels to transport cargo between domestic ports.
Allowing foreign vessels to move fuel barges to Florida, which doesn’t have an extensive pipeline network comparable to other states, would help alleviate the state’s supply concern. Sadly the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, which handles Jones Act compliance, received but did not grant a similar request for Hurricane Harvey.
For gas comparisons in your area, you can go to GasBuddy.com. Currently, the lowest place to buy gas is at the E-Z Mart located on 3085 Clarksville, or Cefco located at 2685 & 3750 Lamar Ave.
Sources: AAA, NOLA.com, GasBuddy.com