Three weeks after it struck Louisiana, Hurricane Ida continues to wreak havoc — on gasoline prices.
The average price of a gallon of gasoline surged 10 cents last week in Florida and rose nationally, which AAA — The Auto Club Group said appears to largely be a correction in expectations and costs following Ida’s hit on gas refineries and pipelines.
Gas prices climbed a few cents per gallon right away after Ida shut down several plants and disrupted a pipeline’s flow with its Aug. 29-30 landfall in Louisiana’s refinery alley, but then eased back the last couple of weeks. That decline appears to have been premature optimism, AAA suggested Monday, after prices soared again.
Floridians were paying an average of $3.10 Monday. Nationwide, the average price Monday was $3.20.
“The rollercoaster ride at the pump continues for Florida drivers,” said AAA Mark Jenkins. “Where pump prices go from here is unclear. Hurricane Ida’s impact in the Gulf Coast has lingered on, causing lower fuel supplies and upward pressure on prices. Fortunately, there is some downward pressure in the market, because the summer driving season has ended, leading to less fuel demand. In addition to that, winter gasoline is beginning to move back into the market. Both of these should help ease the strain on supplies.”
Most of the onshore oil refineries that went offline because of the storm have reportedly already or are in the process of restarting. However, weekly EIA data showed offshore oil production remained low. Weekly figures from the EIA show U.S. crude production dropped 13%, to hit a two-year low of 10 million barrels per day. That figure improved by 1% to 10.1 million barrels per day last week. Before the storm, crude production levels reached 11.5 million bpd.
Crude oil and gasoline futures prices also rose. The price of crude increased 4% last week on reports that Gulf of Mexico energy infrastructure is still recovering from Hurricane Ida.
Suddenly, the best gas prices are found in the Panhandle, with drivers in Pensacola paying an average of $3.04 per gallon and in Crestview-Fort Walton Beach, at $3.05. In Punta Gorda, which has had Florida’s best gas deals through most of the summer, drivers now pay an average of $3.06. Drivers in Jacksonville, Orlando, Miami, St. Petersburg, and Tampa all are seeing prices averaging $3.09 per gallon.
The highest pump prices still are in West Palm Beach, with an average of $3.23; followed by Fort Lauderdale at $3.13; Port St. Lucie, $3.12; and Sarasota, $3.10.