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Hurricane Florence Likely to Impact East Coast Gas Prices

Motorists along the East Coast could potentially see a spike in gas prices in the wake of Hurricane Florence. Gas supplies are expected to tighten throughout the Carolinas, primarily along coastal areas and slightly more inland. The storm could force a reduction in fuel deliveries, which will limit supplies at local gas stations. The exodus of residents and tourists from these areas could drive up gasoline prices in and around the evacuation zones as they fuel up before leaving town.

Local Gas Prices

The immediate impact may not be as dramatic at gas pumps in New Jersey, but this could change in a matter of a few days. Unlike what was experienced with Hurricane Harvey last year, there are no refineries in Florence’s path, so U.S. crude processing should not be affected. However, if the Colonial or Plantation Pipelines were to be disrupted (both run through South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia), prices could increase. Without power, crude oil and petroleum products cannot be moved through pipelines. Wind damage to above ground tanks at storage terminals can also impact supplies into the pipeline.

“A catastrophic storm system, such as Hurricane Florence, could cause an increase in fuel demand, due to panic buying, leading up to the storm and then reduced demand dramatically post-hurricane,” said Tracy Noble, manager of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Prices in and around New Jersey could be affected as a result of long-term power outages that have the potential to knock out parts of the Colonial and Plantation pipelines, both major gasoline suppliers to the East Coast.”

 

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