Harvey causes spike in NC gas prices ahead of Labor Day weekend

Posted August 30

— As an estimated 1 million North Carolinians head out for vacation over Labor Day weekend, it's unclear how high gas prices could rise as oil refineries in Texas shut down due to Hurricane Harvey.

AAA Carolinas said North Carolina typically sees a decrease in gas prices as the end-of-summer holiday nears, but prices have jumped 10 cents in the last week to an average of $2.29 across the state. AAA estimates that eight refineries have shut down, and it's unclear how long they will be out of service.

Interstate 40 traffic

“We are hurting for the victims of Hurricane Harvey,” said AAA Carolinas president Dave Parsons. “Here in the Carolinas, we may be feeling the effects at the pump. It is important to remember not to panic and overbuy gas – as there is no evidence that there will be a shortage in our states. We encourage drivers to go about their Labor Day vacations as planned and not to panic at the pump.”

AAA said there could be another rise in gas prices before the week is over.

The Environmental Protection Agency has approved emergency waivers easing gasoline, diesel requirements to address possible fuel shortages caused by Harvey.

For those who travel for work, they can't but help notice gas prices.

"I cover South Carolina, so many times, I drive straight through North Carolina," Mark Dotson said. "I fill up in Richmond, and I'm going to South Carolina. I don't try to fill up at all in North Carolina."

'I've got a half tank, but I'm afraid it's going to go up even more, so I'm going to top it off now. Especially with the weekend coming."

The largest refinery in Port Arthur is operating at about 40 percent. And an operator of a major pipeline into the east coast is running at a reduced rate as well.

"This is my dad's car," Dwayne Drinkwine said. "He let's me use it for work during the week to save gas prices on it. Because I have a truck, and it's like $80 to fill it up."

People in the Triangle are accustomed to an end-of-summer price drop, but prices are currently doing the opposite. An estimated eight refineries have temporarily stopped production.

The statewide average is up to $2.29, a 10-cent increase from last week.

In August 2016, Raleigh and Durham's average was around $2.11, and in Fayetteville was around $2.08.

A spokesman for the North Carolina Petroleum and Convenience Marketers said the state is not at risk for running out of gas. As long as pipes are operating, he said now is not a time to panic.
As long as pipes are operating - even if at a reduced rate - he says now is not a time to panic.

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  • Tim Orr Aug 31, 3:18 p.m.
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    First, let me say thank you for using "Raleigh and Durham" instead of the fictional place 'Raleigh/Durham'. Secondly, I have to call BS on the premise of this story. Gas prices go up because the gas companies are greedy and they just want to make money for their stockholders.