WILKES-BARRE — Gasoline prices have shot up across the country as Tropical Storm Harvey forced oil refineries along the Gulf Coast to be taken offline, but drivers in the Wyoming Valley shouldn’t be affected — for now.
“The long and short answer is yes — gas prices are going up and have gone up across parts of the country, but not all areas have been impacted yet (if at all),” Jana Tidwell, manager of public and government affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic, said in an email Monday.
At $2.37, Monday’s national gas price average was 4 cents more expensive on the week and one of the largest one-week national price surges seen this summer, Tidwell said.
Pennsylvania’s gas average at $2.54 was unchanged in the last week. The Wilkes-Barre area’s gas average at $2.52 Monday was unchanged overnight and down a penny in the last week.
Even before Harvey made landfall late Friday as a Category 4 hurricane, dozens of oil and gas platforms had been evacuated, at least three refineries had closed and at least two petrochemical plants had suspended operations.
Although downgraded to a tropical storm, Harvey parked itself over the Gulf Coast and has been pounding the region with torrential rain and high winds for four consecutive days, and 2 more feet of rain was expected as of Monday afternoon.
About one quarter of oil refining capacity in the Gulf Coast had been taken offline, according to forecasts by Oil Price Information Service. That equates to about 2.5 million barrels per day.
Over the weekend, Valero reported its refineries in Corpus Christi and Three Rivers sustained “substantial refinery impacts” and the company is evaluating infrastructure needs to determine when the refineries can resume operations.
“As in any national or local state of emergency, AAA expects gas prices to be held in check up and down the gasoline supply chain, including prices set by refiners, distributors and dealers unless there is a clearly justifiable reason for an increase,” Tidwell added.
The nation’s largest weekly changes are: Indiana (+11 cents), Ohio (+9 cents), Florida (+7 cents), Michigan (+7 cents), Illinois (+6 cents), Washington (+6 cents), Georgia (+5 cents), South Carolina (+5 cents), Washington, D.C. (+4 cents) and Texas (+4 cents).
The Associated Press contributed to this report.