You knew it was coming: the only question was "when."
Now we know. Cincinnati-area gas stations for Speedway, the largest gasoline dealer in Ohio, are raising prices to $3.95 a gallon in advance of Hurricane Isaac.
At many stations, this represents a jump of 25 to 30 cents a gallon.
Other stations are following suit, and some BP and Shell stations are moving up as high as $3.99 for regular.
And 9 News is finding several stations now above $4 as of Wednesday morning. Among them, the Shell stations on Delta Avenue in Mt. Lookout and on Pfeiffer Road in Blue Ash, which both have $4.09 for regular.
This is the highest gas price in the Greater Cincinnati and Tri-State region since mid-March of this year, when prices briefly touched $3.99 before settling back into the $3.69 range for most of the summer.
Is it Gouging?
Federal laws prohibit price gouging in times of storms or disaster, so what gives?
The simple answer is that this is not gouging.
It is a response to a huge jump in the wholesale price of gasoline from $2.90 to $3.30 in recent days, because of fears about Isaac shutting down much of the nation's gasoline supply.
Reasons for Price Jump
Several factors are at play:
- A half dozen refineries along the Gulf coast are shutting down this week as Isaac approaches.
- 75 percent of oil drilling platforms in the Gulf of Mexico are temporarily shut down to avoid the risk of another BP Gulf disaster.
-A fire at a refinery in Venezuela has shut down some of that country's output.
-Another Chicago pipeline shut down temporarily on Monday.
If the storm causes serious damage, or forces refineries to remain closed into next week, don't be surprised to see prices move above $4 a gallon.