Have you noticed a price increase at the gas pump in recent days? It’s not due to Hurricane Harvey. Not yet, anyway.
The storm’s devastation forced several oil refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast to close Tuesday morning, including five in the Houston region and six in the Corpus Christi region, according to a USA Today report. Those refineries make up 12 percent of the nation’s total capacity. The storm has forced shipping ports to close as well.
Though the storm is almost 2,000 miles away, Idaho could eventually feel the impact. Gas prices are expected to rise from 10 to 20 cents per gallon around the country, GasBuddy.com’s Patrick DeHaan told USA Today. DeHaan said the price increase could last from two weeks to a month. Prices rose 2 1/2 cents overnight around the nation, according to a release from AAA Idaho.
Prices have already risen earlier than they normally would in Idaho, according to AAA Idaho Public and Government Affairs Director Matthew Conde. Conde said prices have risen 23 cents since the first of the month.
Those increases are not because a lack of supply in the region or the hurricane, however, as Idaho gets most its oil from Wyoming and is refined in Salt Lake City. The increase in price is a result demand from the Great American Eclipse and upcoming Labor Day travel, Conde said. Prices are up 29 cents per gallon from a year ago.
“Most of our action is going to be on the demand side,” Conde said.
That’s not to say Hurricane Harvey won’t eventually have some sort of impact in Idaho. Conde expects that, at the most, prices would rise by 10 cents because of competitive pricing around the country. Conde said the Rocky Mountain region is usually the last to be affected by national price increases and the last to drop those prices.
“You’re looking at a ripple affect that should be relatively modest for Harvey (in Idaho),” Conde said. “That is predicated on a quick turnaround for the refineries that are offline.”
The good news is that prices tend to fall after Labor Day. People travel less and will start using winter fuel, which is cheaper, Conde said.
“We never had that lull this summer,” Conde said. “It’s been a solid month for demand.”