Gas prices up nationwide due to Harvey


GRAND FORKS, ND (WDAZ-TV) -- Gas prices are on the rise nation-wide thanks to tropical storm Harvey.

WDAZ's Scott Cook joins us to explain how high those prices could get in our region.

Tropical storm Harvey has done more than devastate the city of Houston and the Texas Gulf Coast, it's also caused headaches for drivers at the pump.

The storm has shut down twenty-five percent of the nation's refining capacity and now drivers across the country are feeling the effects.

Here at the pumps in Grand Forks, the average price per gallon of gasoline is $2.49 which is up twenty cents from the average price of $2.29 just over one week ago.

And it's not just drivers in our area who are pinching pennies.

Patrick DeHaan, Petroleum Analyst, says, "East of the rockies is seeing a tremendous jump in gas prices. The national average is up about a nickel, leading to a weekly increase over 20 cents a gallon."

The jump in prices comes on the heels of Harvey’s devastation that has shut down nearly a quarter of the nation's refineries in the Gulf Coast.

"That refining capacity is extremely vital to the nation which consumes about 9.7 million barrels of gasoline per day," says DeHaan.

In Dallas, there has been a shortage of gas, although experts say that is not necessarily Harvey's fault.

"A lot of the shortage that Dallas is now experiencing, is self-inflicted. For whatever reason, motorists became panicked about running out of gas. Everyone ran to the pump and now a self-inflicted gas shortage exists there because everyone ran out to fill up at once," says DeHaan.

Experts don't expect gas prices to rise much more in the next week, but they also don't expect them to fall anytime soon.

"The increases are probably going to wrap up here in the next 7 days or so, maybe a little longer. But gas prices probably won't see an extended drop back to their pre-Harvey levels maybe for a month," says DeHaan.

Experts tell me that prices will begin to fall once oil refineries in the Gulf Coast get back online.

Right now the national average price for a gallon of gasoline is $2.56.

Here in North Dakota it is $2.45 and across the river in Minnesota it's a little higher at $2.47.