As residents of Virginia, the Carolinas and Georgia prepare for or seek to escape from the onslaught of Hurricane Florence, gasoline pump prices are not expected to experience widespread increases. There are no oil refineries or significant production facilities in any of the four states that are expected to take the brunt of the storm.
That does not mean that it will be business as usual, however. The approaching storm has lifted demand for gasoline, and gas stations are having a difficult time keeping their storage tanks filled.
Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy, commented:
Gasoline availability has been a headache, but the good news is that supply has remained healthy. Stations aren’t able to refill their storage tanks as quickly as motorists are filling up due to the influx of demand. Supply continues to flow out of refineries at normal levels, so the outages at stations are more of a headache than a panic – there are many stations that still have fuel as refiners and gasoline production have continued countrywide. There have been no refinery shutdowns as a result of Florence.
The good news for motorists is that this is not an event that will result in widespread gas price spikes. Refiners are unhindered and out of the way of the storm, so gasoline keeps flowing. Gas prices are still likely to fluctuate in the days and weeks ahead, but it will likely be due to other factors, such as the price of oil rising or falling. There may be minor price movements, mainly in the hardest hit areas as a result, but only in a worst case scenario. Gas prices will eventually fall due to lower autumn demand and a switch to cheaper winter gasoline that takes place this weekend. This event is very unlikely to drive broad large price increases.
Once the storm has passed through the area, power outages may affect gas station pumps that need electricity. Truck and pipeline deliveries to stations may experience some delays, but there should be no shortage of fuel. Storm damage or flooding also may cause some supply difficulties.