Temporary jump in gas prices from Harvey possible

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Gas prices dipped a few  pennies last week, although Delaware  could see a spike from Hurricane Harvey. 

Gas prices in the days ahead could potentially head  upward, as the Texas Gulf Coast, home to nearly a quarter of the country’s gasoline production, recovers from Hurricane Harvey. Several oil fields, platforms and refineries have closed down operations and production, Wilmington-based AAA Mid-Atlantic reported. 

Today’s national average of $2.36 is up two cents over last week, seven cents more than a month ago and 15 cents more expensive than a year ago.

Some areas did see an uptick in prices as competition moderated.  The Bear-Glasgow area, for example, is seeing competition from an influx of gas stations in neighboring Elkton, MD.

The GasBuddy.com website reported that BJ’s Wholesale Club in Elsmere  posted the lowest price at the pump at $2.10 a gallon, with a neighboring station matching that figure. 

CURRENT AND PAST GAS PRICE AVERAGES
Regular Unleaded Gasoline (*indicates record high)
  8/27/2017 Week Ago Year Ago
National $2.36 $2.34 $2.21
Pennsylvania $2.54 $2.55 $2.32
Philadelphia (5-county) $2.54 $2.55 $2.31
South Jersey $2.29 $2.30 $1.97
Wilkes-Barre $2.52 $2.53 $2.31
Delaware $2.20 $2.23 $2.11
Crude Oil
$47.87 per barrel
(Fri. 8/25/17 close)
$48.51 per barrel
(Fri. 8/18/17 close)
$52.33 per barrel
 

At the close of NYMEX trading Thursday,  the benchmark West Texas Intermediate  crude oil settled at $47.87 per barrel, 64 cents lower than the previous day’s closing price. The thinkng was that  less crude would be needed, due to the impact of the storm. 

West Texas Intermediate Crude  has yet to rise above $50 per barrel so far in August, with July 31 being the last time it was above that mark.

The hurricane’s impact on crude oil is likely to be a significant reduction of crude imports into the Gulf Coast, affecting refineries’ crude production rates, AAA reported.

In a more local development, Reuters reported that the PBF Delaware Delaware City refinery could run at a reduce rate due to repair work. (See story below).

Report indicates Delaware City refinery will run at reduced level

The refiner would not coment on the report. It was not known if the possibility of a reduced supply would have much impact of an impact on the region.

“The busy summer driving season is coming to an end and Mid-Atlantic fuel prices remain slightly lower or at the same price they were last week,” said Jana L. Tidwell, manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic.  “The effects of Hurricane Harvey are not fully known at this point and may push pump prices higher as Labor Day draws closer.”

AAA noted that  refineries tend to return to full operations as quickly as possible, and imports are an option to return supply to pre-hurricane levels.

In the short term, motorists may experience an uptick at the pump, particularly in the Gulf Coast region, as crude and gasoline inventory levels are  affected.  Hurricanes typically cause an immediate increase in fuel purchases in the affected region, but also a slowdown in retail demand as residents evacuate.

To check out prices in your neighborhood, check out AAA’s  Fuel Price Finder (http://www.AAA.com/fuelfinder. Users of laptops  may need to remove pop up blockers to view the site. 

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