Updated 8:25 am, Monday, September 11, 2017
Gasoline prices are starting to fall after peaking late last week as temporary shortages caused by Hurricane Harvey begin to ease.
Texas fueling stations are mostly replenished with gasoline now – although some pockets of outages remain in Houston, Dallas and San Antonio, according the GasBuddy.com., a website that tracks gasoline prices and refining activity.
The Houston average for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline on Monday is $2.48, which is down from a high of $2.50 Thursday and Friday, but still well above the $2.10 a gallon average before Harvey approached the Texas coast. The national average slipped to $2.67 per gallon, down by nearly 1 cent, but up 35 cents from pre-Harvey levels.
Average gas prices nationally will likely remain elevated longer as Hurricane Irma, which made landfall in Florida over the weekend, creates shortages in Florida, South Carolina and Georgia.
In Texas, only a few locations remain out of fuel. Damages from Harvey’s floodwaters are keeping Houston-area stations closed, rather than a lack of gasoline.
“Harvey may be long gone, but his wrath continued to drive gasoline prices up in much of the country in the last week,” said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy. “However, the effects are finally starting to weaken as refineries return to production and fuel begins to flow once again from many Houston refineries.”
Harvey, which made its U.S. landfall on Aug. 25, knocked out nearly 25 percent of the nation’s oil refining capacity, which is concentrated along the Texas Gulf Coast. More than a dozen major refineries shut down and fuel prices climbed 20 percent in the course to two weeks.
All but couple refineries have restarted or begun the process of restarting. Those two farthest away from resuming production are Exxon Mobil’s Beaumont refinery and Paris-based Total’s Port Arthur refinery, both of which flooded seriously.
The latest to begin restarting is Royal Dutch Shell’s refinery in Deer Park. Since takes refineries a week or two to restart, the Gulf Coast’s refining complex won’t get back to normal for some time.
Irma didn’t cause similar issues because Florida doesn’t have any oil refineries.
The end of the peak summer driving season should also add downward pressure on gas prices as demand slackens, DeHaan said.