Hurricane Harvey impacting local gas prices

tjefferson@dailypress.com

Hurricane Harvey touched down in Texas more than a week ago, but locals are still feeling the effects at the gas pump.

“Prices were going up a little bit before, but when the hurricane hit prices jumped,” said Johnny Rash, manager at the Sunoco at 7107 Merrimac Trail.

The price of regular unleaded gas at the Sunoco on Merrimac Trail is $2.59, a 20-cent increase from before the hurricane, Rash said.

“When something like the hurricane happens, it affects the refineries, and that’s like taking a piece of the pie out of the equation,” Rash said.

Rash said such a drastic spike in prices isn’t common.

“This isn’t normal. Prices usually go up gradually,” he said.

In the Williamsburg area, gas prices are hovering around $2.49, according to Gasbuddy.com, a crowdsourcing site for gas prices.

The Gulf Coast provides oil to states close to the Atlantic seaboard, including Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia, which is why these states saw the largest increases in gas prices, according to a AAA news release.

Last week, 18 states saw an increase of 30 cents or more for regular unleaded gas, according to Gasbuddy.com.

“All of this was due to Harvey,” said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at Gasbuddy.com.

DeHaan said he doesn’t expect Hurricane Irma, which is likely to make landfall in Florida by the end of the week, to affect gas prices.

“The two storms are fairly different. Hurricane Harvey ripped right through the most sensitive area of the Gulf Coast, where we are talking about a lot of refineries and oil infrastructures. Irma’s path could change, but looking at forecasts it’s going to go through Florida, which isn’t the home of any energy infrastructure,” said DeHaan.

There could be relief in sight for drivers.

Early indicators show minimal damage to a majority of refineries in the Gulf, which means gas prices will level off, according to a AAA news release.

AAA also said crude production is strong and since the high demand of the summer driving season officially ended Labor Day, prices should not continue to increase.

“I think Virginia gas prices will start to go down. We’ve already hit a peak,” DeHaan said. “Prices at the retail level should back off.”

Find cheap gas

Visit gasbuddy.com/GasPrices/Virginia/Williamsburg.

Jefferson can be reached by phone at 757-790-9313.

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