RICHMOND COUNTY – As many Richmond County residents may have already noticed, numbers at the pumps have spike significantly over the last week. Many point their fingers at Hurricane Harvey’s arrival on Texas’ southeast coast, but that’s not the only reason.
In a little over a week, local residents have seen gas prices soar approximately 30 cents. According to CNN, “North Carolina prices jumped 11 cents overnight (Thursday) and are up 27 cents over the last week.”
Hurricane Harvey is the primary reason for this significant price jump in regular unleaded gas. While dumping record amounts of rain and thumping Category 4 hurricane force winds to parts of Texas and Louisiana, Harvey simultaneously disrupted one of the largest crude producing regions in the world.
“The Texas Gulf Coast alone is home to over 25 percent of the United States refining capacity and the U.S. Federal offshore Gulf of Mexico accounts for nearly 20 percent of total U.S. crude oil production,” reports the U.S. Department of Energy.
Harvey forced a large number of refineries in the Gulf Coast region to shut down due to rising flood waters which caused damages to facilities. It also forced sections of the Colonial Pipeline to shut parts of its operation down to a complete standstill. This region is one of the main suppliers of transportation related fuel to the east coast, which includes Richmond County.
The Colonial Pipeline is same pipeline that broke in September, 2016, and forced gas shortages and roughly a 20 cent gas spike across the southern U.S.
Prolonged gas shortages, that have local drivers reeling, are not expected to last much longer. Several local gas stations, including the Shell Station on Long Drive and US 1 and the Kangaroo Express on Wiregrass Road, both in Rockingham, have signs posted that they’re currently out of particular octane gases.
Local residents scrounge whatever gas is left at the Shell Station on Long Drive and US 1 in Rockingham.
Across the nation, Americans have felt the financial effects of Hurricane Harvey. As a result of the reduced production, average gas prices have jumped coast to coast, and may continue to rise throughout the Labor Day holiday weekend.
On Monday, August 28, 2017, the U.S. average gasoline price was $2.40 per gallon (regular unleaded fuel), and as of Friday night the national average was $2.52 per gallon. This is one of the largest average price jumps since Hurricane Katarina.
Historically, gas prices tend to jump over the Labor Day weekend. However, the U.S. Department of Energy reported that the $2.40 U.S. average gasoline price was in fact the second lowest price of gas on the Monday before Labor Day since 2004.
Prior to Hurricane Harvey, gas prices over the summer have averaged approximately $2.37 per gallon nationwide.
Before you load up for the lake or head out to the beach one last time this summer, prepare to pay more at the pumps, as gas prices are expected to rise throughout the holiday weekend, with gas remaining in short supply.
Gas prices are expected to continue to rise until the majority of refineries are brought back online and fuel can be shipped in large quantities to local filling stations.