Ga­so­line prices fall fol­low­ing hur­ri­canes

The Oklahoman - - ENERGY - BY ADAM WILMOTH En­ergy Editor aw­ Adam Wilmoth aw­ilmoth@

While the cleanup is just be­gin­ning fol­low­ing back-to­back hur­ri­canes, the dam­age to the coun­try’s oil and nat­u­ral gas in­fra­struc­ture so far ap­pears to be lim­ited.

Re­finer­ies are re­turn­ing to ser­vice, and ga­so­line again is flow­ing through­out most of the coun­try.

Much of Florida and parts of the Caribbean still are with­out elec­tric­ity, but crews are work­ing to re­pair power plants and lines dam­aged from the storms.

Land­locked Ok­la­homa was spared the di­rect ef­fects of the hur­ri­canes, but ga­so­line was rerouted from the state to help make up for short­falls in Texas, caus­ing av­er­age prices to surge 25 cents in Ok­la­homa City. Over the past week, how­ever, prices have de­creased steadily.

The de­cline likely will con­tinue over the next sev­eral weeks as the re­main­ing af­fected re­finer­ies re­turn to ser­vice. Fri­day also marks the be­gin­ning of the win­ter fuel sea­son, when re­finer­ies are al­lowed to sell less-ex­pen­sive win­terblend fu­els, al­though the fed­eral gov­ern­ment waved some of the more costly sum­mer-blend re­quire­ments early af­ter Hur­ri­cane Har­vey hit Texas.

Gas prices in OKC

Ok­la­homa City’s av­er­age ga­so­line price was al­most $2.18 a gal­lon Thurs­day, down 9 cents over the past week, but up 14 cents over the past month. The price is about 19 cents higher than a year ago. Thurs­day’s na­tional av­er­age was al­most $2.65 a gal­lon, down 2.7 cents over the past week, but still up 30 cents over the past month. The price is about 46 cents higher than one year ago.

While the re­cent ga­so­line price jump has been rel­a­tively short-lived, it has been a dou­ble hit to the Ok­la­homa economy be­cause ga­so­line prices jumped with­out a cor­re­spond­ing rise in oil prices. As a re­sult, con­sumers paid more with­out ben­e­fit­ing lo­cal oil com­pa­nies, their em­ploy­ers and state and lo­cal cof­fers.

Restart­ing re­finer­ies has both helped push down ga­so­line prices and been a boost for oil pro­duc­ers.

Oil prices rally this week

Do­mes­tic bench­mark West Texas In­ter­me­di­ate crude briefly topped $50 a bar­rel Thurs­day be­fore end­ing the day at $49.89, up 59 cents, or 1.2 per­cent. Thurs­day marked the fourth con­sec­u­tive oil price gain. Be­sides the U.S. re­finer­ies, this week’s oil rally has been fu­eled by grow­ing ex­pec­ta­tion of ris­ing global oil de­mand and by a con­tin­u­ing ef­fort by Saudi Ara­bia for the Or­ga­ni­za­tion of Pe­tro­leum Ex­port­ing Coun­tries and other large pro­duc­ers to ex­tend pro­duc­tion cuts.

The In­ter­na­tional En­ergy Agency said Wed­nes­day that world oil pro­duc­tion was down 720,000 bar­rels a day in Au­gust, led by civil un­rest in Libya and dis­rup­tions in the United States be­cause of Hur­ri­cane Har­vey.

The bench­mark nat­u­ral gas price added a penny Thurs­day to $3.07 per thou­sand cu­bic feet, up 6.2 per­cent this week.


A flame burns at the Shell Deer Park oil re­fin­ery in Deer Park, Texas, in this Aug. 31 photo.

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