Punishing prices for gasoline hit Saturday at local stations

A view of the Marathon Texas City Refinery as rain from Hurricane Harvey floods a road

A view of the Marathon Texas City Refinery as rain from Hurricane Harvey floods a road

But as drivers pack up for holiday, pump prices for gasoline are the highest since 2015, thanks in large part to Hurricane Harvey.

The national average price for a gallon of regular spiked 7 cents overnight, from $2.45 Thursday to $2.52 Friday, according to the American Automobile Association.

Others saw potential for operational refineries to delay typical September seasonal maintenance to benefit from high prices.

Dr. Barrett says, "The prices will go up a little bit, but then it should be back to normal here in the next few weeks". That additional transportation cost is a big factor in the price increase.

Crude oil production in the United States averaged 9.528 million barrels in the week to August 25, the EIA also said, with imports at 7.9 million barrels daily.

Colonial facilities east of Hebert, Texas, are capable of receiving and moving product as supplies become available, the company reported, and personnel have been deployed to the region to assist in bringing the system back to full capacity as soon as conditions on the ground are deemed safe.

The supply crunch is already being felt in Dallas-Fort Worth, where QuikTrip, one of the nation's largest convenience store chains, is temporarily halting gasoline sales at about half of its 135 stores in the area.

Motiva's Port Arthur, Texas refinery has a capacity to process 605,000 barrels of oil a day, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

While the price of gasoline has gone up, the price of WTI crude oil has declined sharply as supplies remain clogged without demand from shut refineries and closed down ports.

Ten refineries along the Gulf Coast are still shut down, according to the Department of Energy, and several more are restarting or operating at reduced rates.

In cash trading, the spread between Gulf Coast gasoline prices and benchmark futures rallied further, a day after hitting a five-year high in anticipation of constrained supply.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry said Thursday he is releasing 500,000 barrels of crude oil from an emergency stockpile in a bid to prevent gasoline prices from spiking in the wake of disruptions caused by Harvey. However, the released portion of the oil is small compared to the daily U.S. demand of about 20 million barrels. However, they can't just flip a switch and immediately start producing gasoline and diesel.

"When you see what's going on in Houston, you can hardly refer to an increase in our gas prices as "pain" at the pump", said Amy Parmenter, AAA spokesperson.

"Two days ago it was $2.15, today it's $2.49", Ali Al Shehab said.

Hurricane Harvey took direct aim at the country's Gulf Coast energy machine.

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