Harvey Already Affecting Prices at the Pump

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BROWNSVILLE – Harvey hasn’t hit yet but Rio Grande Valley drivers may already notice some damage to their wallets at the pump.

“I’m trying to get ready for the hurricane,” Lyon Rathbun told CHANNEL 5 NEWS at a gas station in Olmito. “So tanking up, going to Walmart, getting batteries and food in case we lose power.”

It was a completely different story at a gas station across the Valley in Mission.

 “I’m just pumping gas so I can take my son to school,” John Raflores said. “As far as the hurricane, I’m just going about my day. I don’t think it’s going to hit that hard here, so I’m just going about my day. Not even worried about it.”

Patrick DeHaan, an analyst with gasbuddy.com, said refineries shutting down are to blame.

“Several refineries in Corpus Christi have shut down. That is immediately impacting gasoline supply,” DeHaan explained.

He said Corpus is just the start. There are also major refineries located in Houston, Galveston Bay and Baytown expected to meet Harvey.

“A lot of the time when there’s damage it will affect refineries,” he said. “That’s really what we’re looking at, how much will the hurricane impact refineries, their ability to produce gasoline.”

He said the more damage, the higher prices can go – passing that cost along to consumers.

DeHaan predicts drivers in the Valley will see somewhere around a 15 cent price increase because of Harvey. He said that’s not bad compared to past storms.

 “Gas prices after Hurricane Katrina jumped on the wholesale market by 40 cents a gallon. So far with Harvey, they’ve gone up by about 15 cents a gallon,” he said.  “So given context, this is not necessarily as dire as Katrina was. Certainly a very bad situation but at least in terms of gas prices there may be less than an impact.”

Some areas near Corpus and Houston reported they’re out of gas. CHANNEL 5 NEWS searched across the Valley but didn’t find any local gas stations out of fuel.

A fuel truck driver we spoke with said a couple things can factor into that, including low supplies at the ports, lack of manpower and power outages.

On Friday, the average price for a gallon of gas in Texas was $2.14. Nationwide, the average price is $2.34.

AAA reports this time last year, the average price was $2.19 a gallon.

Gasbuddy.com has a gasoline availability tracker tool drivers can use in storm situations. The tracker allows drivers to report when stations are out of fuel or the power is out so others can be alerted and know where they should avoid trying to stop for gas.


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