With Hurricane Harvey shutting down more than 15 Texas oil refineries, including the nation's largest refinery in Port Arthur, the entire eastern half of the U.S. could be in store for a significant spike in gasoline prices in the coming week.
And several southern states are already starting to report gasoline shortages.
Stations in Dallas and San Antonio, Texas are closing because they cannot get gasoline right now.
And the Governor of North Carolina, Ray Cooper, has just declared a State of Emergency, anticipating gas shortages in that state.
Analysts, however, say it's not yet due to any real shortage of product, but rather "panic buying" in anticipation of a shortage. When everyone rushes to a gas station to top off their car, it drains pumps quicker than tanker trucks can replenish them.
Cincinnati-area prices up, but supplies plentiful
Cincinnati-area gas stations are raising prices, as the price of wholesale gasoline futures soars.
Prices were spiking in Southern Ohio and Northern Kentucky to $2.55 - $2.59 a gallon Thursday, Aug. 31.
Some Northern Kentucky stations jumped to $2.79 Thursday night.
Gas stations in Butler and Warren counties had been as low as $2.15 this week, but were also seeing price hikes.
However, the Cincinnati area and Ohio gets most of its gasoline from refineries in the Chicago area, which are still producing gasoline. That should tamper any shortage from southern states. Supplies remain plentiful in the Midwest.
In addition, West Coast states are not expected to be impacted, as their gasoline comes primarily from California refineries.
Why the price hikes?
Prices are based on "futures," and they are soaring because the nation's largest gasoline refinery, in Port Arthur, Texas, is now flooded and closed.
Nearly half the country's refineries are in the Gulf region, which produces 17 percent of the nation's gasoline, according to the Oil Price Information Service.
On top of that, the Colonial Pipeline, which sends millions of gallons of gasoline a week from Texas to New York and New Jersey, is also closed temporarily due to the refinery shutdowns. That is causing additional stress in the system
The industry group says a bad hit could mean as much as a 25-cent jump nationwide in the coming days, if a refinery is damaged and has to shut down for lengthy repairs.
As always, don't waste your money.
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