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U.S. Gasoline Prices Jump Following Hurricane Ida

U.S. gasoline prices rose on Monday from the cheapest price since early July seen during the weekend, as oil refiners on the Gulf Coast began assessing the damage from Hurricane Ida, which is estimated to have shut in 13 percent of U.S. refining capacity.

As of Tuesday, August 31, the U.S. national gas price average had risen to $3.159 a gallon, up from $3.151 per gallon on Monday, according to estimates from AAA.

Nine oil refineries were on Hurricane Ida’s path, and four of those are believed to have shut down operations ahead of the storm, AAA said on Monday.

Hurricane Ida pummeled Louisiana this weekend, leaving 1 million customers without power, including refineries in the Gulf Coast area. As much as 95 percent of oil production in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico had been shut in ahead of Hurricane Ida which passed through the Gulf before making landfall in Louisiana.

While analysts expect oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico to be gradually restored this week, refiners may take longer to restart facilities, especially if power outages in Louisiana persist.

“Until the power is restored, it’s too early to know the full impact of any damage Ida caused on the oil and gas industry, but motorists regionally can expect price fluctuations leading into Labor Day weekend,” said Jeanette McGee, AAA spokesperson. “Typically, a category 4 storm could mean three plus weeks before refineries are back to normal operations, while offshore production is more likely to resume this week,” McGee added.

Utilities say the full assessment of the damage to transmission lines could take days. Entergy said on Monday “Based on historical restoration times, customers in the direct path of a storm as intense as Hurricane Ida could experience outages for more than three weeks.”

According to GasBuddy’s petroleum analyst Patrick De Haan, many refineries in Louisiana say that it is possible facilities to take longer to restart, and the biggest issue is power. Marathon Petroleum’s Garyville refinery is out, ExxonMobil’s Baton Rouge refinery lacks nitrogen supply to restart, the Alliance refinery of Phillips 66 is out of service expecting “extended” outage, and Valero’s both refineries in Louisiana are down due to lack of power, De Haan said on Monday.

By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com

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