Gasoline prices edged up in Oklahoma on Tuesday as uncertainty about Hurricane Isaac started affecting the refinery supply chain.
Prices in Oklahoma City rose about a nickel on average from Monday to Tuesday, said Chuck Mai with AAA Oklahoma. In Tulsa, gasoline rose about 12 cents.
A gallon of gasoline averaged $3.66 in Oklahoma City on Tuesday, according to AAA. That was up 9 cents from $3.57 a week ago. The statewide average was $3.66, while Tulsa recorded $3.70 per gallon.
“We can probably expect a few more increases of a dime or 15 cents as Isaac makes landfall,” Mai said.
Hurricane Isaac was expected to make landfall late Tuesday or early Wednesday morning as a Category 1 storm. The National Weather Service put its expected path north into Louisiana, Arkansas and Missouri before turning eastward toward Illinois and Indiana by Sunday.
Mai said the storm caused about half a dozen coastal-area refineries in its path to shut down as a precaution. The federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, which monitors oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico, said more than 503 drilling platforms and 49 rigs had been evacuated by Tuesday morning. Producers shut in about 93 percent of oil and 67 percent of natural gas in the Gulf of Mexico.
Forecasters said the main threat from the hurricane could be heavy rain. Mai said additional refineries could be in the hurricane's path depending on where it makes landfall and where it travels inland.
“The threat is from flooding for some of those refineries,” he said. “It's supposed to be a real slow-moving storm and we don't know what to expect. But they've been taking precautions there and in the Gulf (of Mexico) with oil platforms.”
Mai said gasoline prices had been rising before the storm in part from higher consumer confidence and consumer spending that was expected to increase demand. Mai said AAA doesn't expect the gasoline increases to crimp travel plans for the Labor Day weekend. The group expects more than 386,000 Oklahomans to travel this weekend, an increase of 4 percent from last year.
Meanwhile, a refinery fire in Venezuela over the weekend appeared to contribute to fluctuations in U.S. gasoline futures, although Hurricane Isaac's approach appeared to have a bigger effect.
Gasoline futures rose 7.7 cents, or 2.5 percent, to $3.155 Monday in New York, on concerns about supply disruptions from the storm and the closed Venezuelan refinery. Tuesday, U.S. gasoline futures fell 2.87 cents to $3.126 as traders waited to see how big an impact Isaac has on U.S. refineries, and as Venezuelan officials said the damaged Amuay refinery would restart in two days.
Benchmark oil rose 86 cents Tuesday to finish at $96.33 per barrel.
The Associated Press
Facilities prepare for hurricane
TULSA — Syntroleum Corp. shut down the Dynamic Fuels plant in Louisiana as Hurricane Isaac approached Tuesday. The facility, which is operated as a joint venture with Tyson Foods, has completed a normal shutdown as its hurricane procedures were implemented, the company said. Also Monday, Oklahoma City energy companies SandRidge Energy Inc. and Gulfport Energy Corp. said they had shut in operations and relocated workers ahead of the storm.
From Staff Reports