Gas prices leveling out despite Irma

Tribune Chronicle

WARREN — For the first time in more than 15 days, gas prices appeared to be leveling out Monday despite Hurricane Irma making landfall in Florida.

In the Warren-Youngstown area, the average cost of a regular gallon of gasoline, at $2.53, dropped 1 cent Monday from what it was the same day last week, according to national auto club AAA. That compares to pre-Hurricane Harvey costs of $2.25 a month ago and $2.06 last year around this time.

While several states saw price increases, Ohio was among those where the cost declined. Statewide, the cost of a regular gallon of gas averaged $2.48, down from $2.54 the same day last week. Ohio’s gas prices averaged $2.35 for a regular gallon a month ago and $2.08 per gallon this time last year.

Across the nation, consumers on average paid $2.67 for a regular gallon of gasoline, up about 3 cents from the same day last week. A month ago consumers paid an average of $2.36 across the U.S., and $2.18 this time last year.

“There is not a gasoline shortage in the U.S., but instead localized challenges — power outages, impassable roads, debris — in Florida keeping gasoline supplies from where they are needed most,” said Jeanette Casselano, AAA spokesperson. “Total U.S. gasoline stocks sit above the five-year average. Since much of Florida’s gasoline delivery occurs via barge, all eyes will remain on port conditions as the storm passes.”

All Florida ports remained closed on Monday while some in North Carolina and South Carolina were open with restrictions. To alleviate local supply disruptions, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security allowed foreign flag vessels to deliver fuel to help with outages amid the response and recovery efforts.

Meanwhile, in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, at least five refineries in the Gulf Coast were operating at reduced rates, which accounts for 8 percent of U.S. refining capacity, the U.S. Department of Energy reported. Six refineries were in the process of restarting, accounting for 12 percent of U.S. refining capacity. Five refineries remained shutdown, accounting for 6 percent of U.S. refining capacity.

On Monday, 69 percent of fueling stations across the country were selling gas at $2.50 per gallon or more, while 7 percent listed gas at $3 or more, AAA leaders said.