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Gas prices spiking locally after refineries disrupted by Hurricane Harvey

Gas prices in Pierce County could rise as much as 15 cents per gallon in the next couple of weeks, to more than $3 per gallon.
Gas prices in Pierce County could rise as much as 15 cents per gallon in the next couple of weeks, to more than $3 per gallon. AP

Expect gas prices to crest $3 a gallon in Pierce County — and much of Washington — within the next two weeks.

Hurricane Harvey’s impact is being felt even in the Evergreen state, where price hikes of as much as 15 cents per gallon might be seen, said Allison Mac, a petroleum analyst with the website GasBuddy.

It could be weeks before Texas’ energy sector in and around Houston recovers from the unprecedented storm, which dropped more than 50 inches of rain in five days in some areas of the Lone Star State.

In Pierce County, the average gas price was $2.97 per gallon on Thursday, according to the GasBuddy website.

Gas prices here might not shift as much as elsewhere in the country for the same reason the West Coast’s gas prices tend to be higher than the nation’s, Mac said.

“We are basically like an island,” she said of California, Oregon and Washington. “We use our own fuel, and we depend on our own refineries.”

Getting gas here from other states takes a lot of time, she said. If a natural disaster damaged our refineries, Mac said, “prices in Washington would just skyrocket because it’s harder for Washington to be getting gas from, say, Indiana.”

Gas prices in Springfield, Missouri surged 20 cents overnight, she said — from $2 per gallon to $2.20.

“It’s supply and demand. We are a capitalist society,” she said.

Gas prices should level out in the next couple of weeks as refineries restart, she said. As long as crude oil prices remain steady, at around $45 per barrel, prices should return to where they were before the hurricane struck.

“We are going into winter. The demand for gasoline is going to be lower,” Mac said. “We are switching to winter-blend gasoline, which is a fuel that is cheaper to produce.”

Kate Martin: 253-597-8542, @KateReports

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