Could Hurricane Joaquin Impact Gas Prices in Hampton Roads?

Gas Prices
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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va., (October 2, 2015) - The Hampton Roads average price of gas has remained relatively unchanged over the past week as the current average price is $2.01 which is $1.15 less than last year and 17 cents less than a month ago. This price trend may continue well into October as refineries conduct seasonal maintenance. However, Hurricane Joaquin could affect the gas prices in Hampton Roads area as well as prices along the Mid-Atlantic and/or Northeast next week.

Hurricanes have the potential to disrupt refinery production, pipeline transportation, wholesale deliveries and gas station operations. Small hurricanes on the East Coast generally have a very limited and brief impact on prices, while larger storms, such as Hurricane Sandy, can disrupt regional fuel supplies and distribution for a number of weeks. “Drivers in the affected areas should fill their vehicle’s gas tanks in advance of the storm in case there are any distribution problems,” said Georjeane Blumling, Vice President of Public Affairs for AAA Tidewater.

Despite the potential impact that Hurricane Joaquin may have, a seasonal decline in driving this winter should still help push gas prices below $2 per gallon in most parts of the country by the end of the year as long as crude oil costs remain steady. Refineries typically conduct maintenance in the autumn and spring when demand for gasoline, diesel and heating oil is relatively low. More refineries than typical have scheduled maintenance for the next few weeks, but much of this maintenance should wrap up by December, which would allow a steady decline in gas prices later in the year.

“This autumn’s refinery maintenance season is expected to be heavier than in years past because many refineries ran at such high rates during the summer,” continued Blumling. “Retail averages in some regions temporarily could rise during this maintenance period, yet we would expect prices in most areas to remain relatively low compared to recent years.”

Crude oil remains the primary wildcard in determining future gas prices. If OPEC cuts production, the Chinese economy grows stronger or if Iranian oil is unable to enter the market, then oil prices could rise and push up the cost of gasoline. There also is a possibility that oil prices could drop significantly in the coming months given the weaknesses in the global economy and because refineries conducting maintenance will need less crude oil.

As part of North America’s largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA Tidewater Virginia provides its more than 325,000 members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding AAA Tidewater Virginia has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers.  For more information, visit AAA.com and follow us on Twitter at Twitter.com/AAATidewaterVA or on Facebook at facebook.com/AAATidewaterVirginia