What to expect of gas prices after Hurricane Matthew

Officials talk about getting people back into homes

Gasoline is a rare commodity at the moment as motorists exhausted supplies at local gas pumps ahead of Hurricane Matthew's approach.

Road conditions, the status of ports – where the fuel usually comes in – and any damage to stations will play a part in how quickly gasoline supplies ramp back up, said Mark Jenkins, spokesman for AAA – The Auto Club Group in Tampa.

"There's no definite timeline," Jenkins said. "It really just depends, and there are a lot of variables at play."

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Florida's gasoline is delivered via waterborne tanker ships, including supplies coming into the Seaport Canaveral Terminal at Port Canaveral. Those shipments mostly come from refineries along the Gulf Coast: Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. The state's east coast also receives occasional shipments from Canada, the New York Harbor and Europe. These shipments are delivered to Florida's ports, stored in massive tanks, loaded onto trucks and driven to gas stations.

Gasoline is also sent via pipeline from Tampa to Orlando.

Getting gasoline to gas stations could be another hurdle. Depending on the storm's aftermath, there could be flooding, debris, downed power lines, or any other road hazard that could prevent trucks from getting through. Also, if gas stations are left without power and do not have a backup supply, the pumps won't work.

As for pricing, motorists might see some increase due to supply constraints, Jenkins said, but don't expect any outlandish increases.

The state average price for a gallon of regular unleaded is $2.19, which is about 5 cents less than last week. In Brevard County, the average price per gallon for regular unleaded ranged from $2.05 to $2.15 leading up to Hurricane Matthew.

"I called the State Attorney General's office and they couldn't even give me a definite price as to what gouging might be," Jenkins said. "The State of Emergency does really prevent stations from jacking the prices up way high.

"If you start pulling into gas stations and seeing $3 a gallon, that's reason to be suspicious."

Contact Price at 321-242-3658. You can also follow him on Twitter @Fla2dayBiz.


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