Griffith and Thornbrugh both said they have been told their prices are rising largely because of refinery problems in the area, which have led to lower-than-normal gasoline supplies.
Regional refiners and gasoline marketers typically have about 20 to 25 days worth of fuel available at all times, Thornbrugh said. Today, that level is down to 11 or 12 days.
Mechanical problems blamed
The inventories are down largely because of mechanical problems at four refineries in the region, Griffith said.
“What are the odds four would have problems at the same time? Somebody needs to take a look at the whole distribution network,” Griffith said. “It's a mess out there.”
Because the refining and distribution issues are temporary, Griffith and Thornbrugh said prices should eventually return to normal.
It's still unclear when that will happen.
“The question is going to be timing,” Thornbrugh said. “Over the next couple of weeks, the inventories are going to increase. We will have more refineries come back online and you will see prices decline.”
But don't look for prices to drop yet.
“We're not out of the woods yet. There could still be more unpleasant bumps before that happens,” Thornbrugh said. “This situation is temporary and abnormal. It will be corrected. But it will not happen overnight.”