Gas Prices See a 17-cent Jump Already This Week in the Wake of Hurricane Harvey
On Tuesday, gas prices in Columbia averaged $2.17. By Thursday, that average had jumped to $2.34, a 17-cent increase.
The reason, consumers have been told, is the shutdown of refineries — as many as 10 — across Texas in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
The spike, which saw prices as high as $2.49 in Columbia on Thursday afternoon, comes as people make plans to travel for the Labor Day weekend.
“It’s outrageous,” said Brandi Higgins, cashier at the Break Time convenience store at Stadium and Old Highway 63. “People are just really asking why they’re up so high.”
Across the rest of the nation, the average price of gas on Thursday was $2.45, up 10 cents from the week before. The highest prices were in California, Hawaii and Alaska where prices were nearly $3.
The shuttered refineries in Texas include the Motiva Port Arthur Refinery, the largest in the United States, and the Exxon Mobil Beaumont refinery, according to Business Insider magazine. Together the plants have the capacity to refine about 2.2 million barrels a day, according to the magazine article. Among the companies that have closed refineries are Exxon Mobil, Citgo, Shell and Phillips 66.
Reaction to the prices was frustration but sympathetic understanding among fuel consumers in Columbia on Thursday afternoon.
“It seemed higher than I thought it would be,” said local resident Hannah Hoffmeister. “But I was expecting it, my econ professor was telling us about it.”
Like Hoffmeister, many residents are trying to remain optimistic that the prices will fall, but said they are prepared to make changes to budgets and driving habits if prices continue to increase.
“I’m going to stop driving as much,” Higgins said.
“If (gas prices) stayed that way for a long time, I might, but not now,” said David Streeter, who was pumping gas at the Break Time. “They’re really only going up because of the hurricane, it should just be temporary.”