Experts say Hurricane Harvey could lead to spike in gas prices

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Gas prices are going to jump in some parts of the country as Hurricane Harvey nears the Texas coast.

A gallon of gas is a penny more expensive than it was a day ago, but it will ultimately cost between five and 15 cents more, according to Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst for the Oil Price Information Service. Prices should be back down by next week.

Platforms and rigs are already being shut down in anticipation of the storm, which is currently forecast to be a Category 3 hurricane with 111 mph winds. It’s expected to make landfall late Friday or early Saturday.

“You’re seeing prices move up because refiners have to take precautionary measures,” Kloza said.

As of midday, personnel had been evacuated from 39 production platforms and one oil rig, according to the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.

Patrick DeHaan, a senior petroleum analyst with GasBuddy, said he expects the national average to go up between five and 10 cents as soon as Thursday night.

“Most of the increases, at least right now, would probably be in the South, the Southeast and the mid-Atlantic,” he said.

The good news is that gas prices are currently low. On average across the country, gas currently costs $2.35 per gallon, according to AAA.

That said, the situation on the ground is still developing, and damage from the storm could be worse than expected, DeHaan said.

And Harvey is headed toward an area that’s immensely important for U.S. oil production.

The Gulf Coast accounts for 17% of total U.S. crude oil production and 45% of total U.S. petroleum refining capacity, according to the Energy Information Administration.

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