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Florida stations face fuel shortages, delays ahead of Irma

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"The wholesale price of gas is drifting back down as more refineries get back online". The Saudi-owned Motiva refinery, the largest in the USA, expects to bring 40% of its capacity back online this week before restarting full operations by Sunday. While no refinery has returned its normal operational levels from before the storm, at least four are operating at reduced rates.

The average national gas price (per gallon) as reported by GasBuddy was $2.35 on August 27 and just nine days later had increased to $2.66.

The average price for a gallon of regular gasoline in Columbus and Starkville Tuesday is $2.49, according to gasbuddy.com. The national average is up 27 cents.

Hurricane Irma is barreling toward the Caribbean and expected to reach Florida by the weekend bearing sustained winds of more than 110 miles per hour, according to the National Weather Service.

Meanwhile, pipelines forced to take pre-cautionary shut downs caused by Harvey either have resumed operations or are in the process of coming back online. "Every state has seen average gas prices rise, Texas saw shortages at hundreds of stations- its been one of the most challenging weeks faced in years", said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.

GasBuddy launched a fuel availability map to help people find station with gas, but most stations in Columbus have not been updated with information. "If anybody's in the auto when I fill up, I make mention of (the gas prices)".

Sept. 7 breakdown of average gas prices across Texas. Information provided by AAA
Sept. 7 breakdown of average gas prices across Texas. Information provided by AAA

Jamie Court, president of Consumer Watchdog, said California politics play a role in the price increase.

AAA Texas Weekend Gas Watch said drivers in Dallas are paying the most on average at $2.67 per gallon, while motorists in Amarillo are paying $2.37 per gallon.

"The day of reckoning came a bit sooner than we would like", he said. He travels from Oceanside, where he says gas prices were about a buck cheaper, to Los Angeles on Wednesday, Sept. 6.

Hurricane Irma, for now, is projected to stay away from those same facilities, and though it could cause devastation of its own if it hits Florida, the storm is not expected to affect the supply of gasoline. The state average for diesel fuel was up just 7 cents at $2.58. "Much remains in the air, but the situation promises to be challenging if Irma threatens the USA mainland".

Joe Mirabito, president and CEO of Mirabito Energy Products, said he had anticipated the system would recover after Hurricane Harvey in about 10 days.

A Hurricane Watch was in effect for the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

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