Evacuations for Florence may squeeze gas supplies, cause price spikes

The large-scale evacuations ahead of Hurricane Florence will cause local gasoline shortages and price spikes if tankers can’t reach them fast enough, analysts say. But there are no concerns about refineries or other energy infrastructure like there was when Hurricane Harvey hit Houston last year.

Mike Brown pumps gas into reserve tanks in preparation for approaching Hurricane Florence September 12, 2018 in Little River, South Carolina. Florence, a category 4 storm, is expected to hit the coast between South and North Carolina and could be the strongest storm on record for the East Coast of the United States. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo
Mike Brown pumps gas into reserve tanks in preparation for approaching Hurricane Florence September 12, 2018 in Little River, South Carolina. Florence, a category 4 storm, is expected to hit the coast between South and North Carolina and could be the strongest storm on record for the East Coast of the United States. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo

Hurricane Florence was downgraded to a Category 2 storm Thursday as the first rain bands reached the Carolinas. Landfall is expected late Thursday.

Analysts are not concerned about a widespread gas price hike because refiners are unhindered and not in the path of the storm, according to Gas Buddy.

GasBuddy set up a live update on fuel availability and gas station outages in the region affected by Hurricane Florence. There’s also an app available.

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AAA is also keeping an eye on gas prices in the path of Hurricane Florence.

“Motorists can expect spikes in pump prices to be brief, but possibly dramatic,” said Jeanette Casselano, a AAA spokesperson.

Crude oil prices fell sharply Thursday morning on the news that OPEC had increased production. WTI was down $1.65 to $68.72.. Brent, the international benchmark for crude, was down $1.57 to $78.17.

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The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries had been holding back oil production for years to push prices back up.

On Wednesday, the Energy Information Administration announced that the United States is now the world’s top crude oil producer, surpassing Russia and Saudi Arabia.

The EIA doesn’t publish crude oil forecasts for those countries, but it uses internal estimates to calculate Saudi production, while Russian data comes from the Russian Ministry of Oil. It also includes data from major oil drillers and the International Energy Agency. The United States is producing 11 million barrels of crude oil per month.

ByNicholas Sakelaris