Irma, Harvey Create Uncertainty for Fuel Levels

Gas prices shoot up to highest prices in two years

PORTLAND, Ore., – Storms Harvey and Irma revved up gas prices across the country sending the national and Oregon averages to their highest prices in two years. But wholesale prices are starting to level off, meaning pump prices should stabilize and even move lower later this month. For the week, the national average for regular unleaded adds a penny to $2.66 while the Oregon average gains two cents to $2.92. Both averages are at their highest prices since August 2015.

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“Irma was one of the most powerful Atlantic hurricanes ever and AAA’s thoughts are with everyone who’s been impacted,” says Marie Dodds, public affairs director for AAA Oregon/Idaho. “The storm has created challenges in getting gasoline delivered to stations in the impacted region, similar to what the Gulf Coast experienced in the wake of Harvey, and this is putting upward pressure on pump prices across the country.”

There’s no gas shortage in the U.S. as gasoline stocks sit above the five-year average. In Florida, millions were without power as Irma battered the region. Flooding, debris and impassable roads meant gasoline supplies have not been delivered. Florida ports were also closed. Once power is restored, roads cleared and ports re-opened, deliveries will be able to resume. To help alleviate local supply disruptions, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security approved a Jones Act waiver for areas affected by the storms. The seven-day waiver will allow foreign flag vessels to bring in fuel to help with outages amid the response and recovery efforts.

Oregon is one of 37 states where prices increased in the last week. The largest jumps are in Montana, Arizona, Alaska and Georgia where prices increased six cents. The largest weekly decreases are in Ohio (-7 cents) and Kentucky (-5 cents).

All 50 states and the District of Columbia have higher prices now than a month ago. The largest monthly increases are in Georgia (+53 cents), South Carolina (+47 cents) and Florida (+44 cents). Oregon has the 34th largest monthly increase in the nation at 21 cents. The national average is 31 cents more than a month ago.

The West Coast continues to have the most expensive pump prices in the nation. For the second week in a row, California tops the list, joining Hawaii and Washington as the three states with at or above $3. Alaska and Oregon round out the top five most expensive states. Oregon is fifth most expensive for the 11th week in a row.

Rank Region Price on 9/12/2017
1 California $3.16
2 Hawaii $3.11
3 Washington $3.06
4 Alaska $2.97
5 Oregon $2.92
6 Pennsylvania $2.90
7 Connecticut $2.87
8 District of Columbia $2.86
9 New York $2.83
10 Nevada $2.81

Compared to the rest of the country, West Coast states are seeing relatively small price increases on the week. : Arizona (+6 cents), Alaska (+6 cents), Nevada (+4 cents), Washington (+4 cents), California (+3 cents), Oregon (+2 cents) and Hawaii (+1/2 cent). According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, gasoline inventory in the region moderately increased (100,000 bbl) to bring the region’s overall supply levels to 26 million bbl.

The nation’s cheapest markets are Oklahoma ($2.35) and Louisiana ($2.40). For the seventh week in a row, no states have an average below $2.

Drivers are paying more to fill up compared to one year ago. The national average is currently 48 cents per gallon more and the Oregon average is 42 cents more than a year ago.


Oil Market Dynamics

According to the Department of Energy, at least five refineries in the Gulf Coast are operating at reduced rates in the wake of Hurricane Harvey. Six refineries are in the process of restarting, while five refineries remain shut down. The restarting process can take several days or weeks, depending on damage. The Colonial Pipeline continues to experience a delivery delay of up to a week to Mid-Atlantic states. As refineries come back online, states in the impacted regions can expect gas prices to remain volatile due to tight supply levels resulting from Harvey and Irma.

At the close of Friday’s formal trading session on the NYMEX, WTI dropped $1.61 to settle at $47.48. At the close of Monday’s session, WTI gained 59 cents to close at $48.07. Today crude is trading around $48, same as a week ago. Crude prices are up about one percent in the last month and are about $2 per barrel more than a year ago.

Drivers can find current gas prices along their route with the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. The app can also be used to map a route, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance. Learn more at