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Hurricane Harvey could cost you at the pump | TribLIVE.com
Pennsylvania

Hurricane Harvey could cost you at the pump

The Associated Press
| Friday, August 25, 2017 4:39 p.m
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Kyle Hodges
The sign at the Sunoco Gas Station on West Otterman Street in Greensburg on Aug. 25, 2017. Prices could spike next week because of Hurricane Harvey, analysts say.
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Kyle Hodges
The sign at the BP Gas Station on West Pittsburgh Street in Greensburg on Aug. 25, 2017. Prices could spike next week because of Hurricane Harvey, analysts say.
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Kyle Hodges
Gas prices around the Pittsburgh region this week were $2.626 a gallon on average and are expected to rise through the Labor Day weekend, according to GasBuddy.com.
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AFP/Getty Images
This image of Hurricane Harvey taken from NOAAs GOES East satellite on August 25 at 1407 UTC shows the storms eye as it nears landfall in the southeastern coast of Texas.
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Surf rises at Bob Hall Pier Corpus Christi, Texas as Hurricane Harvey approaches on Friday, Aug. 25, 2017. The slow-moving hurricane could be the fiercest such storm to hit the United States in almost a dozen years. Forecasters labeled Harvey a 'life-threatening storm' that posed a 'grave risk' as millions of people braced for a prolonged battering.
TropicalWeather35360jpgfd193
A lone car crosses the Queen Isabella Memorial Causeway in the distance as rain from Hurricane Harvey falls on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017, in Port Isabel, Texas. The causeway will be closed to traffic by the Texas Department of Public Safety when conditions worsen, keeping individuals on South Padre Island in place while the storm passes near the deep South Texas coastal town. (Jason Hoekema/The Brownsville Herald via AP)
TropicalWeather19599jpg75b61
Ultima Cruz shrimp boat is docked at the Brownsville Shrimp Basin Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017, as Tropical Storm Harvey approaches the Texas coast. The National Hurricane Center said Thursday afternoon that Harvey is expected to become a major hurricane by Friday before it reaches the middle Texas coast. (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald via AP)
TropicalWeather38512jpg9e446
Residents fill sand bags as they prepare for Hurricane Harvey, Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017, in Corpus Christi, Texas. Two counties have ordered mandatory evacuations as Hurricane Harvey gathers strength as it drifts toward the Texas Gulf Coast. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
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A map of the Texas Coast is projected on a screen as Deb Nowinski, a disability integration coordinator, gives information to a caller regarding the approach of Hurricane Harvey at the Galveston County Office of Emergency Management Emergency Operations Center in Dickinson, Texas, Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017. (Stuart Villanueva/The Galveston County Daily News via AP)
TropicalWeather24449jpg29986
Michael Lambert, the emergency operations center controller at the Galveston County Office of Emergency Management, looks at a bank of monitors in center in Dickinson, Texas, Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017. (Stuart Villanueva/The Galveston County Daily News via AP)
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Mauro Eligio, left, gets help boarding up his home from his neighbor Chris Baker on the Southside of Corpus Christi, Texas on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017, in advance of Hurricane Harvey. (Rachel Denny Clow/Corpus Christi Caller-Times via AP)
TropicalWeather70818jpgbe9d0
James Redford carries a sheet of plywood as he helps board up windows in preparation for Hurricane Harvey, Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017, in Corpus Christi, Texas. Two counties have ordered mandatory evacuations as Hurricane Harvey gathers strength as it drifts toward the Texas Gulf Coast. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
TropicalWeather06001jpg58f1d
Whataburger by the Bay in Corpus Christi, Texas, is boarded up on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017, in preparation for Hurricane Harvey. (Rachel Denny Clow/Corpus Christi Caller-Times via AP)
AFPRU35X
AFP/Getty Images
This image of Hurricane Harvey taken from NOAAs GOES East satellite on August 25 at 1407 UTC shows the storms eye as it nears landfall in the southeastern coast of Texas.
Harvey72671jpg85287
Surf rises at Bob Hall Pier Corpus Christi, Texas as Hurricane Harvey approaches on Friday, Aug. 25, 2017. The slow-moving hurricane could be the fiercest such storm to hit the United States in almost a dozen years. Forecasters labeled Harvey a 'life-threatening storm' that posed a 'grave risk' as millions of people braced for a prolonged battering.
TropicalWeather35360jpgfd193
A lone car crosses the Queen Isabella Memorial Causeway in the distance as rain from Hurricane Harvey falls on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017, in Port Isabel, Texas. The causeway will be closed to traffic by the Texas Department of Public Safety when conditions worsen, keeping individuals on South Padre Island in place while the storm passes near the deep South Texas coastal town. (Jason Hoekema/The Brownsville Herald via AP)
TropicalWeather19599jpg75b61
Ultima Cruz shrimp boat is docked at the Brownsville Shrimp Basin Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017, as Tropical Storm Harvey approaches the Texas coast. The National Hurricane Center said Thursday afternoon that Harvey is expected to become a major hurricane by Friday before it reaches the middle Texas coast. (Miguel Roberts/The Brownsville Herald via AP)
TropicalWeather38512jpg9e446
Residents fill sand bags as they prepare for Hurricane Harvey, Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017, in Corpus Christi, Texas. Two counties have ordered mandatory evacuations as Hurricane Harvey gathers strength as it drifts toward the Texas Gulf Coast. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
TropicalWeather37755jpg7a558
A map of the Texas Coast is projected on a screen as Deb Nowinski, a disability integration coordinator, gives information to a caller regarding the approach of Hurricane Harvey at the Galveston County Office of Emergency Management Emergency Operations Center in Dickinson, Texas, Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017. (Stuart Villanueva/The Galveston County Daily News via AP)
TropicalWeather24449jpg29986
Michael Lambert, the emergency operations center controller at the Galveston County Office of Emergency Management, looks at a bank of monitors in center in Dickinson, Texas, Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017. (Stuart Villanueva/The Galveston County Daily News via AP)
TropicalWeather42619jpg3d054
Mauro Eligio, left, gets help boarding up his home from his neighbor Chris Baker on the Southside of Corpus Christi, Texas on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017, in advance of Hurricane Harvey. (Rachel Denny Clow/Corpus Christi Caller-Times via AP)
TropicalWeather70818jpgbe9d0
James Redford carries a sheet of plywood as he helps board up windows in preparation for Hurricane Harvey, Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017, in Corpus Christi, Texas. Two counties have ordered mandatory evacuations as Hurricane Harvey gathers strength as it drifts toward the Texas Gulf Coast. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
TropicalWeather06001jpg58f1d
Whataburger by the Bay in Corpus Christi, Texas, is boarded up on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017, in preparation for Hurricane Harvey. (Rachel Denny Clow/Corpus Christi Caller-Times via AP)
TropicalWeather48551jpg80515
Stripes store workers board up windows in preparation for Hurricane Harvey, Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017, in Corpus Christi, Texas. Two counties have ordered mandatory evacuations as Hurricane Harvey gathers strength as it drifts toward the Texas Gulf Coast. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
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Stripes workers board up windows in preparation for Hurricane Harvey, Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017, in Corpus Christi, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)
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Shoppers pass empty shelves along the bottled water aisle in a Houston grocery store as Hurricane Harvey intensifies in the Gulf of Mexico, Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017. Harvey is forecast to be a major hurricane when it makes landfall along the middle Texas coastline. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
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Aaron Berg fills up a gas can and his portable generator Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017, in Houston as Hurricane Harvey intensifies in the Gulf of Mexico. Harvey is forecast to be a major hurricane when it makes landfall along the middle Texas coastline. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
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Palmer Simpson loads suitcases into his truck as he prepares to evacuate his home in Port Aransas, Texas, ahead of Hurricane Harvey on Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017. (Courtney Sacco/Corpus Christi Caller-Times via AP)

How much Hurricane Harvey will affect local gas prices depends mainly on where and how hard it hits the Gulf Coast, experts said Friday.

The projected path of the storm as it approached the Texas coast had it bypassing most of the natural gas and crude oil facilities, said Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis for Oil Price Information Service.

Several major gasoline refineries remained in its path.

“It’s a gasoline event right now,” he said.

That would change if the hurricane veers toward Louisiana, he added.

“I do think you’re going to see the highest prices of the driving season next week,” Kloza said.

AAA projects a national increase of 5 cents to 15 cents per gallon over the Labor Day weekend, said AAA East Central spokesman Jim Garrity.

Gas prices typically rise that weekend because of increased demand. Harvey shutting down some refineries will add to that, but the relatively high supply of gasoline will probably mute the effect like it has all summer, he said.

“We have a very strong supply of gasoline right now,” he said.

The impact on Pennsylvania prices would be indirect since the region gets most of its gasoline from refineries in the East and West, said Donald Bowers, chairman of the Pennsylvania Petroleum Association’s Motor Fuels, Convenience Store and Truckstop Committee.

The Texas Gulf Coast contains about one-third of the United States’ refining capacity, according to the Energy Information Administration .

If Harvey shuts the Texas refineries for an extended period, southern companies will start coming north for gasoline and drive up prices here, he said. The wholesale market is already seeing some impact, he said.

“Over the last couple of days, the pricing has gone up about 8 cents a gallon,” Bowers said. That increase hasn’t shown up at the pump yet, he said.

“At this point, I don’t think (the impact) is going to be a whole lot in this area,” he said. “It just depends on how the thing hits.”

Offshore operators have evacuated 39 of the 737 manned platforms that produce oil and gas in the Gulf of Mexico and have evacuated one of the 10 drilling rigs operating in the gulf, according to the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement .

A 2013 analysis by the Energy Information Administration noted that the potential for a hurricane to disrupt oil and natural gas production has declined because the amount of the nation’s natural gas that comes from the gulf has declined from 26 percent in 1997 to 6 percent in 2012.

As of May , the gulf accounted for 3.6 percent of the country’s natural gas production. Pennsylvania accounted for 16.5 percent.

Like AAA, most analysts predict a jump of 5 cents to 15 cents per gallon nationally based on Harvey looking a lot like Hurricane Ike, which hit Texas in 2008.

“Ike sent prices up briefly,” Kloza said. “Ike did not knock out a significant amount of refinery production.”

Refineries in the path of the storm have shut down as a precaution. A controlled shutdown allows the plants to resume operations within a couple of days, while a sudden shutdown, such as from having the power knocked out, would stretch the recovery into weeks, Kloza said.

While the forecast doesn’t have the storm causing much damage to refineries, “The one thing to watch is the grid,” he said.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has predicted that the slow-moving hurricane could stall over Texas and hit it with prolonged periods of torrential rainfall and severe flooding.

If the storm knocks out electrical power for weeks, that would prevent the refineries from restarting and lead to shortages in the market, he said. While that’s possible, “The odds are on our side,” Kloza said.

Brian Bowling is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-850-1218, bbowling@tribweb.com or via Twitter @TribBrian.

Categories: Pennsylvania
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