VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Though Hurricane Harvey has come and gone, the storm’s impact continues to drive up gas prices across the country.
At $2.54, Virginia’s gas price average is 20 cents more expensive on the week. In Hampton Roads, it’s $2.51, which is 28 cents more than last week.
Overall, AAA says gas prices are cents away from topping the highest price since the summer of 2015.
Now, because of evacuations in Georgia and Florida due to Hurricane Irma, drivers are flocking to gas stations to fill up their tanks. This buying could worsen already tight supply levels along the Colonial Pipeline from Alabama to Virginia.
Currently, the pipeline is experiencing a backlog of deliveries — a five to seven day delay — stemming from low product supply caused by Harvey. The Oil Price Information Service notes as Texas refineries continue to increase operating rates, it may take a while for the Colonial Pipeline to ramp up to normal volume and catch up with all deliveries.
AAA says oil refinery and pipeline shut downs are not a major concern, as there are no facilities in Irma’s projected path. Instead, gasoline supply and distribution are top of mind. Port Everglades, which is the main seaport servicing South Florida with petroleum products, stated that it has at least a week of fuel stored on-site. However, according to the Port’s website, “port petroleum operations may be interrupted in the event of storm damage to Port facilities or the entrance channel for ships.”
Similar to Harvey, there wouldn’t be a gasoline shortage in the U.S., but there could be an issue with getting gas supplies to impacted regions — especially if Irma causes power outages and makes streets and roads impassable.
Overall, the potential storm-related increase in gas buying in the coming days combined with delivery delays will likely cause gas prices to continue increasing into the weekend. States most likely to see gas prices increase post-Irma are those directly in the storm’s path, with ripple effects up the East Coast.