Har­vey could push gas up 25 cents a gal­lon

Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition - - NATION & WORLD - By Thomas Heath

Gas prices could rise 25 cents a gal­lon or more for sev­eral weeks in some parts of the coun­try as the en­ergy in­dus­try climbs out of Hur­ri­cane Har­vey’s epic rain­fall in south­east­ern Texas. The na­tion is head­ing into the busy La­bor Day week­end, which marks the end of the sum­mer driv­ing season.

The flood­ing has com­pletely or partly shut down 14 oil re­finer­ies, the U.S. En­ergy Depart­ment said, eras­ing more than 17 per­cent — about 3 mil­lion bar­rels a day — of U.S. gaso­line pro­duc­tion ca­pac­ity.

“Gas prices will go up,” said Pa­trick DeHaan, a se­nior pe­tro­leum analyst with Gas­Buddy, which pro­vides re­tail fuel pric­ing in­for­ma­tion. “The na­tional av­er­age will rise 5 to 15 cents a gal­lon over the next two weeks. It’s up a penny al­ready since yes­ter­day. Ar­eas of the Gulf of Mex­ico will see prices go up be­tween 20 and 35 cents.”

The na­tional av­er­age for a gal­lon of gaso­line mea­sured across 150,000 ser­vice sta­tions is $2.38, DeHaan said. Gaso­line prices jumped 40 cents in the wake of Hur­ri­cane Ka­t­rina, which struck New Or­leans in 2005.

Things could get worse if the storm makes its way east along the Gulf Coast to New Or­leans.

The coastal swath from Cor­pus Christi to New Or­leans is one of the most in­dus­tri­al­ized pe­tro­leum re­gions in the world. Onethird of the U.S. re­fin­ing ca­pac­ity is based there.

“Oil prices are go­ing down, and the kink in the hose is the re­fin­ery,” DeHaan said. “If you have no re­fin­ery, you got no gaso­line, no jet fuel, no diesel fuel.”

DeHaan said eight of those re­finer­ies were shut down and another five or so were par­tially shut down. Re­fin­ers still open are run­ning like mad to close the gaso­line deficit and the higher prices that come with that de­mand.

BREN­DAN SMIALOWSKI/GETTY-AFP

A Texas City re­fin­ery sits amid flood­wa­ters Satur­day. Re­fin­ers still run­ning reap the ben­e­fit of higher gas prices.

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