Not long ago, a hurricane in the Gulf of Mexico would have caused natural gas prices to spike.
But not today.
The country's natural gas markets barely noticed Hurricane Isaac churning through the gulf this week, even as the storm threatened the country's oil and natural gas production platforms, refineries and storage terminals.
Isaac forced producers to shut in more than 3.2 billion cubic feet of natural gas per day, which is about 72 percent of the gulf's daily output.
The price of natural gas gained 14 cents Thursday, but still closed down 7 cents over the past week, settling at $2.76 per thousand cubic feet Thursday.
The country's near-full natural gas reserves and rapid increases in onshore shale gas production have largely shielded consumers from the effects of the storm.
The Gulf of Mexico now represents only 7.3 percent of the country's total daily natural gas production, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency.
When Hurricane Katrina swept through seven years ago, the Gulf of Mexico held more than 19 percent of the country's natural gas production. Natural gas prices jumped $2.25 to more than $12 per thousand cubic feet when Katrina made landfall.
When Hurricane Gustav followed a similar course in September 2008, the Gulf of Mexico represented more than 15 percent of the country's production. The price of natural gas rose 88 cents to a high of $8.81.
While North American natural gas prices slipped slightly this week, the country's gasoline markets did not receive the same storm protection.
The national average price of gasoline has jumped 11 cents over the past week while the statewide average is up 10 cents to $3.62 a gallon according to AAA's fuelgaugereport.com.
At least part of the reason is because gasoline prices are much more time-sensitive, with no large, easily accessed storage facilities comparable to natural gas.
Isaac shut in a half dozen refineries, adding to existing strain caused by recent refinery outages in Indiana and California.
Isaac made landfall two days ago, but the storm continues to cause trouble throughout the refinery-rich region. Gasoline and diesel likely will not be back to full production for several days, and the pump price is expected to climb a bit further over the next several days.
But the good news for consumers is that the summer driving season is over and the refineries will switch to the less expensive winter blend fuels over the next few weeks.