Harvey Causes Gas Prices to Spike, Heating Fuel Unaffected

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The full impact of Hurricane Harvey at the pump has not yet been felt, according to AAA of Northern New England.

The storm lead to several pipeline and oil refinery closures in southeast Texas, including Motiva, the largest oil refinery in the nation.

Drivers in Vermont are preparing for the worst.

“We’ve seen a lot of people hurrying to make sure they fill up their tank,” said Ally Burbo, an employee at Sandri Sunoco in Williston. 

Burbo says Harvey is pushing gas prices up at her gas station.

“First it started with little minimal increments, couple cents, then five cents and this morning, we had a twenty cent increase,” she said.

Regular gas at her Williston Sunoco station cost $2.79 Friday.

According to AAA of Northern New England, the average price is $2.48 in Vermont, $2.41 in New Hampshire and $2.60 in New York.

AAA says those are the highest recorded price so far in 2017.

It cites Hurricane Harvey, specifically numerous refinery and pipeline shutdowns, tightened access to supply levels in the Gulf and high gas demand for the Labor Day holiday weekend.

While gas prices have been affected by Hurricane Harvey, experts say fuel used to heat your home, like heating oil, will not be affected.

“We’re in a good situation in terms of fuel supplies, not so in southeastern United States,” said Matt Cota, executive director of the Vermont Fuel Dealers Association.

Cota says much of Vermont’s fuel comes from Canada and offshore.

“We’re still a month, two months away from the heating season,” said Cota. “We are well-supplied for heating oil and propane and we don’t expect any changes in the weeks ahead.”

Cota says prices are similar to last year’s prices.

What’s important now is getting fuel flowing again in Texas and Louisiana.

“Fuel is critical,” said Cota. “It’s critical to run the generators for when the power is disrupted. It’s critical to run the excavators and the heavy equipment for the cleanup. It’s critical to get those generators for the cell phone towers back up and running.”

As of Thursday evening, the Department of Energy reports 10 Gulf Coast oil refineries remain shut down.

Several pipelines are also not operating.

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