AAA: Gas prices in Carolinas jump following impact from hurricanes

Published 10:11 am Tuesday, September 21, 2021

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From AAA:
Gas price averages in the Carolinas rose on the week as the impact of Hurricane Ida, followed two weeks later by Hurricane Nicholas, slowed down oil production and refinery recovery along the Gulf Coast.

“We usually see less demand and lower prices at the pump during the post-Labor Day period,” said Tiffany Wright, spokesperson, AAA – The Auto Club Group in the Carolinas. “But this most recent hurricane just further complicated and slowed down the recovery from Ida. The price of crude oil also increased – paired with lower fuel supplies, those factors have definitely put upward pressure on pump prices lately.”

North Carolina’s current gas price average is $2.96, seeing a 1-cent increase on the week. This is 5 cents more expensive than a month ago and 94 cents more expensive than this time last year. South Carolina’s current gas price average is $2.91, seeing a 2-cent increase on the week. This is 3 cents more expensive than a month ago and $1.01 more expensive than this time last year.

The national gas price average is $3.19, rising two cents on the week and matching a seven-year high last seen in early August. This average is $1.01 more than a year ago.

True to seasonal form, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports gasoline demand has fallen 8% to 8.9 million b/d, the lowest since Memorial Day.

Approximately 23 percent of offshore Gulf of Mexico oil production remains offline. However, most storm-affected refineries are reporting some level of restarting. Once fully back online, refinery production will help to increase domestic supply levels, which took another step back by 2 million bbl to 218 million bbl in EIA’s latest report. The tightened supply level has contributed to an increase in oil prices, which hit a high of $72 bbl last week, a level not seen since July. If the price of oil remains at this level or goes higher, it will likely result in higher prices at the pump.

Although crude prices decreased on the day due to a stronger dollar, prices primarily increased last week due to the market reacting to impacts from Hurricanes Ida and Nicholas.

Additionally, crude prices rose after EIA reported that total domestic crude inventories dropped by 6.5 million bbl to 417.4 million bbl. As crude production remains constrained and the price per barrel remains above $70, a level not seen since July, pump prices will likely remain elevated.

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