Gas supply, prices expected to be spotty over upcoming week

Published 5:17 pm Friday, September 8, 2017

The Inland gas station on Shotwell Street showed a price of $2.64 Friday afternoon.

Gas prices in Southwest Georgia are rising toward $3 a gallon in the wake of Hurricane Harvey’s devastation in Texas, and Hurricane Irma is keeping the supply and demand disrupted.

“Fuel supply was already tight as a result of Harvey, but demand from evacuees are making it even tighter,” said Glennie Bench, CFO at Inland.

Pipelines are compromised in Georgia and Alabama because of Hurricane Harvey forcing closures of oil refineries in Texas, leading to a domino effect of shortages around the nation. Irma has locked the flow of oil up even more as evacuees race to purchase what little gasoline is available.

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“What we saw starting on probably Aug. 25 was the suppliers that we buy fuel from began to increase prices by a lot every day,” Bench said. “It was 10, 12, 15 cents at a time. The next day it would go up again. Over the course of four nights and five days it went up by about 50 cents a gallon.”

Bench said the consumers had a small window to purchase gas before it spiked last week. Local retailers were lagging on hiking the prices, despite the costs for bringing the gas to their stations steadily rising.

Many evacuees are coming through Bainbridge as they head north from Florida, purchasing gasoline at local gas stations.

How long the price hikes stick depends on when the Texas refineries can get up and running again, as well as the effect of Hurricane Irma on the Florida-Georgia-Alabama regions. Rebuilding a supply of oil can’t happen overnight, so supply is expected to remain spotty over the next week or possibly longer.

“I would not want to say every store is going to be out,” Bench said. “There will be a little bit of fuel available.”

Storm weather also hurts the distribution process of oil by creating dangerous road conditions for trucks to travel on, Bench added. The possibility of winds damaging the canopies over the pumps at gas stations is a possibility as well.