Published: Sun, September 03, 2017
Money | By Charlene Sutton

Columbus gas prices 30 cents higher than average and rising

Columbus gas prices 30 cents higher than average and rising

"On one hand, when you see what's going on in Houston, you can hardly refer to an increase in gas prices as "pain" at the pump", said Townsend. Colonial's pipeline, which stretches from Houston to Linden, New Jersey, near New York Harbor, is capable of transporting about 3 million barrels per day of gasoline, diesel and other fuels to southeast and mid-Atlantic markets.

Tropical Storm Harvey's effect on the energy industry has spread beyond flooded United States refiners as fuel pipelines are also shut, threatening a supply squeeze around the country and roiling world markets as traders scramble to find alternative supplies.

But supply isn't the problem, the Texas' oil and gas regulator said, even though refiners have been crippled by Harvey.

The reduction in fuel supplies has forced the Colonial Pipeline, which supplies fuel from refineries near the Gulf of Mexico to the U.S. Northeast, to reduce supplies. The portion of the system east of Lake Charles would continue to operate, though "deliveries will be intermittent and dependent on terminal and refinery supply".

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"There is not a gasoline shortage in the United States", Sitton said. It closed in September 2016 after a leak and gas spill in Alabama, leading to days of empty gas station pumps and higher prices in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and the Carolinas.

GasBuddy estimates an overall Harvey impact of 20 to 30 cents per gallon to the national average, up from an earlier projection of 15 to 25 cents.

Shipbrokers said cargo flows to NY are expected to be the highest since November, when Colonial Pipeline exploded and cut off supplies.

In addition, Motiva Enterprises ceased operations at its Port Arthur, Texas refinery.

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Since Harvey hit last week, North Carolina has seen gas prices jump 18 cents. Six refineries have begun the process of assessing damage and restarting, which may take several days. Gov. Roy Cooper said gas shortages and higher gas prices should be expected, as has been the case with past major storms that affected the gulf coast.

At the same time, the US could face competition from Latin America as it vies for European gasoline supplies.

Suppliers in Chicago were trying to secure supplies after the Explorer Pipeline, which typically carries about 350,000 barrels a day (bpd) to the region, shut down.

Gasoline prices in the Upstate jumped from around $2.09 per gallon on August 28 to about $2.33 today. The U.S. Energy Department said Thursday that it would release a half-million barrels of crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to combat fuel shortages and stabilize gas prices, which have risen by an average of 6 cents a gallon since Harvey hit over the weekend, according to AAA.

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Almost a year ago Colonial suffered a break in its Line 1 in Georgia, interrupting fuel supplies to the East Coast. The oil will be delivered via pipeline to the Phillips 66 refinery in Westlake, La.

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