Although Hurricane turned Tropical Storm Harvey is centered around Houston, Hudson Valley motorists may soon feel the effects of the storm in the form of potentially increased prices at the gas pump.
As the storm continues to batter Texas, officials are preparing for gas prices to spike at a time they traditionally begin to fall as refineries switch from an eco-friendly summer blend to a less expensive winter blend following the busy driving season.
U.S. gasoline futures went up 5 percent on Monday after spiking as high as 7 percent, according to CNN Money.
AAA New York Media Relations Manager Robert Sinclair, Jr. said that the continued flooding in the area is leading to electrical failures at refineries, shutting down all production. In Corpus Christi, five refineries have been shut down, while in Houston, another 11 are offline. Those refineries are responsible for more than 15 percent of the nation's gasoline supply.
“Back in 2008, after Hurricane Ike hit, a lot of refineries were knocked offline and had no electrical power, which is the big problem flooding causes,” he noted. “And it’s still raining, so this might be an even bigger problem than that.”
As of Monday, Aug. 28, the national average for a gallon of gas was $2.37. In New York, the average is $2.48. Sinclair said that he expects there to be an impact for local motorists, but it would be “impossible” to determine when, until the storm subsides and the cleanup begins.
“With the rain still going, you can’t pinpoint when prices will go up, but I expect to them to go up,” he said. “The Corpus Christi output has been lost (in the pipeline that supplies New York and New Jersey) and about 300,000 barrels out of Houston have been lost according to preliminary reports.”
Sinclair noted that with refineries forced to switch the blends from summer to winter by Sept. 15, motorists may have seen relief at the pump, as there was a massive surplus that they had to unload.
“We were poised for a good time. Now it’s really a wait and see kind of thing, so long as it keeps raining,” he said. “It’s impossible to see how or when we will be affected, but I believe we will. It may not be as profound as some other storms in our area, but we will soon see some change.”
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