Florida drivers could soon feel the effects of Hurricane Ida in the form of higher gas prices. However, according to AAA, while a gas price hike appears imminent, it's still unclear how much of a increase drivers will see.
The average price for gasoline in Florida is currently $2.95 per gallon. The state average has slowly declined over the course of the past three weeks, after setting a 2021 high of $3.03 on Aug. 5. A week ago, it appeared that prices were poised to decline even further, after futures prices plummeted in response to the spread of Covid-19. However, futures prices rebounded last week, due to concerns about what the storm could do to the Gulf Coast fuel supply chain. On Sunday night, futures prices spiked again in overnight trading.
Refineries in Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and Alabama account for more than 45 percent of the nation's capacity for refining crude oil into gasoline and other important products. Additionally, the region is home to nearly 2,000 offshore oil platforms, which accounts for 17 percent of the nation's crude oil production. Nine refineries were in Ida's forecasted track; four refineries safely shut down before the storm and another one reduced operations. More than 90 percent of offshore oil rigs—or, 15 percent of U.S. production—in the Gulf of Mexico were shut down and evacuated before the storm. Additionally, the Colonial Pipeline, which carries diesel and gasoline from Texas to states along the eastern seaboard, was shut down on Sunday as a precaution.
State leaders are reportedly filing for a waiver from the EPA to begin selling winter blend gasoline now. The EPA normally restricts retailers from selling winter gasoline until Sept. 15. However, if allowed, this would enable retailers to bring in both summer and winter gasoline, increasing access to gasoline at a time when supplies could tighten.