Gas prices surge in wake of Harvey

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Thursday, September 07, 2017 4:59AM

Though nearly 1,900 miles from the core of Hurricane Harvey’s destructive force, New Hampshire is feeling the ripple effects of the massive storm, through its gas prices.

With Texas being home to the largest refineries in the United States, the damage from the storm has caused a crunch in supply, leading to an uptick in the cost of gas being felt across the country, including in the Granite State.

“My costs went way up,” said Rod Nichols, who owns both the River Street Market and Circle K gas station in Jaffrey and the Village Mobil in New Ipswich. Though gas prices have risen, said Nichols, he’s actually making less on the gas he sells now, than before the spike. “I’m only making a few cents a gallon,” he said. “I’m hardly making anything.”

While not major, Nichols said he has seen some supply issues when it comes to getting gas. On Sunday, he said, he needed his tanks filled, but was told he would have to wait until the next allocation on Monday morning. While he was able to get his tanks filled by 5 a.m. on Monday, when the gas station opens, so it didn’t impede his business, it’s a sign of the more limited supply, he said.

Average retail gasoline prices in New Hampshire have risen 37.4 cents per gallon, averaging at 2.68, according to a daily survey of gas outlets in the state by GasBuddy, a company that tracks real-time fuel pricing in the state.

New Hampshire’s price increase outstrips the national average increase, which is about 23.8 cents per gallon in the last week, but the overall price of gas is on target with the national average, which is $2.64 per gallon, according to GasBuddy.

Similarly, when comparing to neighboring states, the price has risen more, but the total cost per gallon is actually cheaper in New Hampshire when compared to areas nearby. Vermont, for example, has an average cost of gas at $2.71, which is up 35.4 cents per gallon from last week. 

The current cost of gas is up over last year’s price, by about 54 cents. That’s the largest year-to-year increase from September to September in at least the last five years. 

Patrick DeHaan, a petroleum analyst for GasBuddy, said in a press release issued Tuesday that the price jumps over the past week are comparable to the jump after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, when the national average jumped by 49 cents in a week. 

“Until Texas can recover from Harvey, gasoline prices will likely continue to remain elevated. The situation is beginning to look up, with many refineries either back online or in the process, and gasoline production is ramping back up,” said DeHaan.

Nichols remembers that jump after Katrina well, he said. It occurred only a week after the River Street Market opened. 

“It went way high, immediately,” he recalled. But, like after Katrina, he expects that gas prices will stabilize again within a few weeks – although, with the complication of Hurricane Irma, a category 5 storm expected to make landfall in Florida, there may be further supply issues as gas runs short in Florida and the Southeast and mid-Atlantic.