Prices at the gas pump jumped after the Hurricane Isaac halted several major refineries along the Gulf Coast.
On Tuesday gas prices in Houston County ranged anywhere from $3.63 to $3.69 or more a gallon. Nationally, gasoline averaged $3.75 a gallon. That’s up 30 cents since mid-July and is now higher than levels one year ago in most states.
The price got a boost after midday when forecasters said Isaac had strengthened into a Category 1 hurricane with 75 mph winds.
“It’s the perfect storm, literally, with Hurricane Isaac, issues with Iran and the refinery issues in the Midwest,” said Chuck Mai, spokesman for AAA-Oklahoma.
In Tulsa, fuel prices are getting close to the all-time high of just under $4 a gallon in July 2008, when oil futures hit a record $146.43 a barrel.
Gulf Coast refiners shut about 1.4 million barrels per day of capacity, pressuring crude futures on Monday on expectations that less crude oil will be needed by refineries.
Tuesday’s national average price for a gallon of regular, self-serve gasoline is $3.76. According to AAA data, motorists in five states now are paying an average price at the pump of more than $4 per gallon: Hawaii at $4.28, California at $4.14, Washington at $4.02 and Oregon and Connecticut at $4.01.
After hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast region in August 2005, the price of gasoline spiked by 40 cents a gallon – from $2.65 a gallon to $3.04 in a week.
Energy analysts say it’s too early to make similar predictions.