CHARLOTTE, N.C. (August 28, 2017) – Hurricane Harvey could greatly impact gas prices in the coming weeks throughout the Carolinas. Several oil and gas refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast have temporality shut down operations and production as the area recovers from the devastating disaster. How quickly the refineries reopen will depend on the severity of the flooding and the restoration of power to the areas.
Right now, the statewide average for a gallon of regular unleaded gas in North Carolina is $2.22. South Carolina's average is $2.10. Gas prices could increase from 5 to 25 cents per gallon or more overnight or in the next several days.
“While gas prices have the potential to increase following the devastation from Hurricane Harvey, it's important we stress to motorists to avoid panicking at the pump,” said AAA Carolinas spokesperson Tiffany Wright. “Don't overconsume or change spending habits at the gas station. These behaviors could lead to gas shortages across the Carolinas.”
The possible gas price increase comes at a time when many Carolinians are making plans to take a final summer vacation with a road trip for the Labor Day holiday.
“The busy summer driving season is wrapping up and right now gas prices in the Carolinas appear only slightly higher than they were last week,” added Wright. “That doesn't mean that prices won't spike overnight. We still don't know the full effects of Hurricane Harvey which could have the potential to push pump prices higher as Labor Day approaches.”
Despite the potential for gas price increases and shortages, oil and gasoline inventories across the country have been sitting at high levels all season. Immediate shocks to supply and demand may be contained. If the refineries take more than a few days to come back online, motorists in the Carolinas and other regions across the country could see increases at the gas pumps.