How panicked drivers are making North Texas gas shortages worse

Fuel surge The price of unleaded is set to surge next week according to RAC forecasts

Fuel surge The price of unleaded is set to surge next week according to RAC forecasts

Labor Day weekend traditionally signals the end of the summer driving season.

Since Friday, they're up 10 cents, to a nationwide average of $2.45 a gallon - the highest they've been all year.

How long will we see high prices? .

"Prices are soaring", said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy. We could see an increase at the pump over the next ten days but then numbers should return to normal. "But [prices] will remain above pre-Harvey [levels] for at least a few weeks".

And Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton warned Dallas drivers that some gas stations were trying to cash in on the city's panic by over-inflating gas prices.

This came on the back of record USA gasoline demand of 9.846 million bpd last week, and as US refining utilization rates rose to 96.6 percent, the highest percentage since August of 2015.

The Gulf makes up almost half of total refining capacity in the United States, the world's largest net exporter of refined petroleum products, and the storm is expected to affect global flows. That could mean they'll be up and running sooner than many feared, as the Port of Houston reopens and they are able to get more oil.

Gas futures shot up more than 10% Thursday, the last day of trading for contracts that promised September delivery of gasoline.

Some of the largest refineries in the United States shut down or curtailed activities during Harvey's onslaught on Texas, cutting off about 3 million gallons a day of refining capacity, 16 percent of the US total.

Heading up? RAC data suggest unleaded prices are set to nudge above diesel in the coming days
Heading up? RAC data suggest unleaded prices are set to nudge above diesel in the coming days

The US Energy Department said yesterday that it would release a second batch of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve totaling 1 million barrels as Tropical Storm Harvey's disruption of the petroleum industry has spiked motor fuel prices.

Analysts said the amount of oil was too small to make much difference.

That artery can carry 3 million barrels of gasoline and other products daily.

According to Sitton, the concerns started when refineries began shutting down along the Gulf Coast due to Hurricane Harvey. That has pushed USA crude prices below prices for crude elsewhere, making it cheap for worldwide refiners if they can still get a cargo out.

"In terms of product price increases, it might get worse before it gets better", Rob Smith, an energy analyst with IHS Markit, told The Associated Press.

Dolin Argo, vice president of operations and business development for Explorer Pipeline, said Friday that the company closed its two main pipelines days ago.

However, the data was collected before Hurricane Harvey hit the Gulf Coast.

Hurricane Irma lurked in the Atlantic Friday morning, about 1,580 miles east of the Leeward Islands.

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