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Are Highest Gas Prices Behind Us?
After Harvey and Despite Irma, Slight Dip over the Weekend
For the first time in more than 15 days, the national gas price average appears to be leveling out despite Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irma making landfall in the southeast.
Holding steady for five days at $2.67, today’s national gas price average is just three cents more expensive on the week.
“It remains to be seen what impact the damage caused by Irma will have on gas prices but, AAA experts say, it won’t be in keeping with the increases we’ve seen since Harvey and may have little if any impact at all” says Amy Parmenter, spokesperson for AAA in Greater Hartford. “If Irma does not push prices up, and as refineries closed by Harvey come back online, supply will increase as demand drops off”.
Gas prices across Connecticut dipped slightly over the weekend to today’s average of $2.87, also up just 3 cents from a week ago, but still 58 cents higher than a year ago.
As usual, gas prices across the state vary by region:
New Haven/Meriden $2.85
Norwich/New London $2.90
According to the National Hurricane Center, Irma will cross the eastern Florida Panhandle into Southern Georgia this afternoon, and move through southwestern Georgia and eastern Alabama tonight and Tuesday.
Early reports indicate that Irma has left more than four million people without power, while water and debris cover roadways. Once power has been restored and roads cleared, gasoline will be able to be delivered to stations in the impacted region.
There is not a gasoline shortage in the U.S., but instead localized challenges -- power outages, impassable roads, debris -- in Florida keeping gasoline supplies from where they are needed most.
“Since much of Florida’s gasoline delivery occurs via barge, all eyes will remain on port conditions as the storm passes,” Parmenter says.
Currently, all Florida ports are closed while some in North and South Carolina are open with restrictions. To alleviate local supply disruptions, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security approved a Jones Act waiver for areas affected by the storms. The seven-day waiver will allow foreign flag vessels to bring in fuel to help with outages amid the response and recovery efforts.
Hurricane Harvey Impacted Refineries & Pipelines
Americans along the Gulf Coast continue to recover from Hurricane Harvey. According to the Department of Energy, at least five refineries in the Gulf Coast are operating at reduced rates, which accounts for eight percent of U.S. refining capacity. Six refineries are in the process of restarting, accounting for 12 percent of U.S. refining capacity. Five refineries remain shutdown, accounting for six percent of U.S. refining capacity. The restarting process can take several days or weeks, depending on damage. The Colonial Pipeline continues to experience a delivery delay of up to a week to Mid-Atlantic states.
Mid-Atlantic and Northeast
Gas prices in states across the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast have seen moderate increases, typically in the range of one to three cents, following last week’s double-digit increases. New Hampshire ($2.69) leads the region in increases, with the average price for unleaded gasoline rising six cents since last week. New York ($2.83), Rhode Island ($2.75), Vermont ($2.76) and Maine ($2.74), are close behind as the average price for unleaded gasoline in each state rose by a nickel since last Monday. An outlier, Delaware’s gas price fell one cent to $2.69.
According to the latest Energy Information Administration (EIA) report, regional gasoline supplies dropped to 60.5 million last week. The drop reflects tightening supply due to those refineries still remaining offline after Hurricane Harvey and prices are increasing for the same reason. As pipelines and refineries return to their full operations in the region, prices should start to decrease later in the month. Temporary relief at the pump should also come from extension of the multi-state waiver issued by the Environmental Protection Agency, which will allow states to sell reformulated gasoline without additives that reduce pollution during the summer.
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. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.