Gas prices and Ida: Why it could lead to you paying more at the pump

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — With refineries shut down before Hurricane Ida and unknown damage to refineries on the Gulf Coast, gas prices are already on the rise in Jacksonville.

According to Gas Buddy, the lowest gas price in Jacksonville right now can be found at a Mobil, right off Meadowbrook and Beach Boulevard at $2.69/gallon.

Action News Jax’s Courtney Cole spent a good part of the day checking out gas prices on Jacksonville’s Southside, and the highest price she saw was $2.99/gallon at the WaWa on the corner of Beach and Southside boulevards.

The average price for gasoline in Florida is $2.95 per gallon, according to AAA.

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Cole spoke to AAA spokesperson Mark Jenkins about how Ida will affect what you see during your next stop at the gas station.

Jenkins said it’s still too soon to know how big of an impact will be felt and for how long.

Drivers like Steven and Connie Palmer told Action News Jax they’re a little concerned about gas prices going up.

“They were not too bad. But I kind of figured since the storm came, I think the gas prices will go up,” Steven Palmer said.

They told Cole they drove to Jacksonville from South Carolina to celebrate their wedding anniversary. But before they could head home, they would have to make a pit stop to fill up their gas tank.

“Gas prices went up before, and we’ve managed to adjust,” said Steven Palmer.

Others like Lurline Thompson made the drive to safety from Louisiana this weekend.

“It was just the thought of the unknown that made us leave,” Thompson said.

Action News Jax spoke to Thompson yesterday when she arrived in Jacksonville. Today, she’s waiting to learn what happened to her community.

Jenkins told Cole hurricanes don’t always cause gas prices to go up, but when a storm moves into the Gulf Coast, that changes things.

“A lot of the refineries there in the path of the storm did precautionary shutdowns,” Jenkins said.

According to AAA, there were nine refineries in Ida’s forecast track. Four refineries safely shut down before the storm, and another cut back on operations.

“The faster the power can be restored, and these refineries can get up and running, the less of an impact we’re likely to see on prices at the pump,” Jenkins explained to Cole.

LINK: Lowest gas prices in Jacksonville

The Colonial Pipeline, which carries diesel and gasoline from Texas to states along the eastern seaboard, also shut down Sunday as a precaution.

“Now we’re in a situation where there are a lot of power outages throughout the state of Louisiana, and these refineries cannot operate without power,” Jenkins said.

But power is not the only problem.

“The ports are also an issue. Some of them have yet to reopen. Of course, these ports are so very important for ensuring that shipments of gasoline can leave the area and make deliveries to states like Florida,” Jenkins said.

Most of Florida’s gasoline comes from refineries in Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana.

“Right now, we’re looking at Europe as a possible alternative. Another thing the state leaders are looking at is opening up access to a winter-blend gasoline, which normally would not be allowed to be sold until Sept. 15,” Jenkins said.

Jenkins said the other impact on gas prices comes from something known as the gasoline and crude oil futures market.

“Right now gasoline futures are about 12% stronger than they were this time last week. And that typically has an upward effect on what we pay at the pump,” he said.

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Jenkins said this is not the time to rush to the pump or fill up extra gas cans because that can cause a problem.

But here’s what AAA says you can do to save on gas:

  • Combine errands to limit driving time.
  • Shop around for the best gas prices in your community.
  • Consider paying cash. Some retailers charge extra per gallon for customers who pay with a credit card.
  • Remove excess weight in your vehicle.
  • Drive conservatively. Aggressive acceleration and speeding reduce fuel economy.
  • Enroll in savings programs. AAA members who enroll in Shell’s Fuel Rewards program can save 5 cents per gallon when they fill up at Shell. Members who enroll between July 1 and Aug. 31, 2021, can save 30 cents per gallon on their first fill-up.