Drivers may have noticed that gas prices in the Charlotte area have surged over the last few days as storm-ravaged areas around Houston remain underwater, cutting off crucial supplies of oil.
About one quarter of oil refining capacity in the Gulf Coast had been taken offline, according to auto group AAA, citing the Oil Price Information Service.
On Thursday, Colonial Pipeline Co., which operates the main pipeline carrying fuel from Texas to the East Coast, said service would be “intermittent and dependent on terminal and refinery supply.” It’s looking to start up service from Houston again Sunday.
Thursday afternoon, N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper issued a state of emergency to lift certain restrictions on trucks hauling fuel into North Carolina, an effort to maintain gas supplies in the state and mitigate price spikes.
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As of early Thursday in Charlotte, the average price of a gallon of unleaded gas was $2.43, up nearly 11 cents from Wednesday and up 27 cents from a week ago, according to AAA.
Some stations in Charlotte had fuel prices even higher than that. At the 7-Eleven at South Boulevard and Ideal Way, for instance, a gallon of unleaded gas was $2.59 early Thursday. At the Shell station at Kenilworth and Park, a gallon of unleaded was $2.49.
The price increases have been rapid in some parts of town.
Stations at the corner of Park and Woodlawn were selling gas for $2.35 a gallon Wednesday morning, but the price surged to $2.60 by the evening. At the Circle K at Hickory Grove and W.T. Harris Boulevard, unleaded was advertised to be $2.35 Wednesday afternoon, but when Charlotte resident Valerie Weeks went to pay inside, the price had jumped to $2.59. An employee told her the increase was because of the storm in Texas.
“Here in the Carolinas, we may be feeling the effects (of Harvey) 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,” AAA Carolinas President Dave Parsons said in a statement.
Labor Day marks the end of the busy summer driving season, and demand for and the price of gas tends to start falling. Because of Harvey, that might not happen as quickly this year, AAA says.
The auto group anticipates gas demand this coming Labor Day weekend will be as high if not higher than last year, when an estimated 1,032,000 North Carolinians and 460,000 South Carolinians traveled for the long weekend – 86 percent of them by car.WBTV, an Observer media partner, contributed.