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Pain at the pump

  • Charles County,St Mary's County,Calvert County,Prince George's County,Anne Arundel County
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Hollywood, MD- The entire country is still feeling the effects of Hurricane Harvey, particularly at the gas pump. Since Harvey, the Gulf Coast has caused gas shortages, in effect forcing gas prices to climb across the nation. Now with the threat of Hurricane Irma in Florida, we could see prices climb even higher.

Oil refineries along the Texas coast produce a quarter of the nation’s gasoline. As of Tuesday, Sept. 5, nearly 10 percent of those refineries remained closed. Other oil refineries are only operating at 50 percent capacity.

According to the Automobile Association of American (AAA), the average price for a gallon of unleaded gasoline is $2.67—that’s up from $2.44 a week ago and from $2.34 a month ago. Those prices are expected to rise even more as Hurricane Irma creeps closer to the United States.

Nearly every state in the nation has seen gas prices climb quickly in the past week. At an average of $2.67 a gallon, Americans are paying the highest prices at the pump in nearly two years. AAA spokesperson, Jeanette Casselano, said “AAA will continue to monitor Irma’s path and the potential impact the hurricane could have on residents in the area, as well as refineries, pipelines and supply distribution components.”

The Department of Energy (DOE) is reporting that eight Gulf Coast refineries are in the process of restarting, which accounts for about 10 percent of Gulf Coast refining capabilities. At its peak, Harvey shuttered 27 percent of U.S. processing capacity.

“News of refineries starting-up is very promising, especially for areas that have felt tightened supply levels over the last 10 days, but we aren’t in the clear yet,” said Casselano. “Consumers will continue to feel pain at the pump stemming from Harvey with gas prices potentially increasing an additional five to ten cents in the week ahead. States in the south, southeast and mid-Atlantic are most likely to see the biggest surges as these states receive the bulk of their supplies from the Gulf Coast. They could even see an additional surge if Hurricane Irma hits Florida this weekend. The good news consumers will see relief from the gas price spike towards the end of this month.”

Seventy-four percent of U.S. gas stations are selling gas for $2.75 or less while only seven percent are selling above $3.00 a gallon.

Here in the Mid-Atlantic, we’re seeing some of the highest gas prices in the nation, with Washington, DC topping off at $2.87 a gallon. In Maryland, on average we’re paying 41-cents more per gallon. As pipelines and refineries return to their full operations in the region, prices should start to decrease later in the month.

Contact Joy Shrum at j.shrum@thebaynet.com

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