09/10/17 — Gas prices may go up as people evacuate

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Gas prices may go up as people evacuate

By Rochelle Moore
Published in News on September 10, 2017 1:45 AM

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No gasoline shortages have been reported yet, but mass evacuations due to Hurricane Irma could propel a spike in prices at the pump.

Gasoline supplies continue to flow but evacuations from Hurricane Irma are expected to lead to congested highways and higher prices at the pump.

No gasoline shortages have been reported by AAA Carolinas, although the automobile association received reports of some gas stations running out of fuel, said Tiffany Wright, AAA Carolinas spokesperson.

Shortages have been temporary as gas stations continue to receive regular fuel supplies, a trend that is expected as Hurricane Irma threatens the Florida coast over the weekend.

"Right now, we're fine," Wright said. "The problem is in the next coming days. You're going to have folks go out in droves and get gas. A situation like this does have an increased potential of prices going up."

Gasoline has been flowing into North Carolina and South Carolina for the past week, after supplies were disrupted when the Colonial Pipeline, which transports gasoline between Houston and the East Coast, was temporarily shut down, following Hurricane Harvey.

The pipeline is experiencing a backlog of deliveries, with five to seven-day delays, that stem from low product supply caused by Hurricane Harvey, after refineries were closed because of the storm.

A gasoline shortage is not expected in the United States, according to AAA Carolinas. The issue is more related to getting gasoline supplies to affected regions, especially if the hurricane causes electricity outages and makes streets and roadways impassable.

Gov. Roy Cooper's declaration of a state of emergency in preparation for Hurricane Irma will lead to faster movement of supplies through the state, including gasoline, Wright said.

The declaration facilitates the movement of resources needed to respond to the storm and waives truck weight, size and hours-of-service restrictions so supply vehicles can move quickly.

Gas prices hit their highest mark Friday in more than two years, with the statewide average prices at $2.63 per gallon, a 40-cent spike since late August, AAA Carolinas reports. Hurricane Irma is expected to push prices even higher in the coming days.

AAA Carolinas expects highway congestion as traffic volume increases from residents in Hurricane Irma's path traveling north.

Road closures and evacuation routes are available at https://www.ncdot.gov/travel/evacuationmaps.