Pipeline issues mean gas prices will go even higher

Gas prices continued to rise Thursday in the wake of Hurricane Harvey and just ahead of travelers hitting the road for the Labor Day weekend.

At least two major pipelines — one that ships gasoline across the southern United States and up to New York, and another that flows north to Chicago — have been slowed or stopped because of flooding and damage. Officials hoped to resume normal flow by Sunday.

The national average for a gallon of regular gasoline had risen from about $2.35 a week ago to $2.45 Thursday. The price is surging in some states such as Georgia, where the average cost per gallon of regular gas had climbed from $2.22 a week ago to $2.39 Thursday.

The cheapest gas in Gainesville as of Thursday afternoon was $2.39 per gallon, according to gasbuddy.com.

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Andy Milton, senior vice president of supply for Gainesville-based Mansfield Oil, said the highest prices should come either this weekend or early next week before returning to normal levels.

Huge challenges remain for the nation’s system of getting gasoline to the pumps.

Hurricane Harvey forced the shutdown of at least eight Texas refineries, according to the American Automobile Association.

Nearly one-third of the nation’s refining capacity is along the Gulf Coast from Corpus Christi, Texas, to the Lake Charles, Louisiana, area.

More than 25 percent of U.S. refining capacity was offline, according to statistics released by Mansfield Oil on Thursday morning. That was an improvement from 30 percent being offline at the peak of the storm.

Georgia gas price average

Thursday: $2.39

Wednesday: $2.33

A week earlier: $2.22

A month earlier: $2.18

A year earlier: $2.16

The Colonial Pipeline provides nearly 40 percent of the South’s gasoline. It runs underground and is now under water in many parts of Texas, where inspections are needed before it can be fully operational again, Colonial spokesman Steve Baker said Thursday. The Georgia-based company remains able to operate its pipeline from Louisiana to states east and northeast of there, though deliveries will be “intermittent,” the company said.

The Explorer Pipeline carries about 660,000 barrels per day through Texas, Oklahoma and points north. A spokesman did not immediately return a phone request for comment Thursday, but earlier in the week, while the pipeline suspended flows to Chicago, flow in the company’s smaller pipeline had been restored to Dallas, analyst Andy Lipow said.

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