As Hurricane Ike sets its eyes on Houston, the Gulf oil industry is shutting down for the second time in a month as it braces for the storm. The hurricane has spurred some Houston-area gas stations to tack a surplus onto their gas. The American Automobile Association, which collects the data of credit card swipes at some 100,000 gas stations nationwide, is reporting a 20 cent hike at some stations in the Houston metropolitan area.
Overall, Texans pay less for gasoline than the national average, even now as Ike approaches. Areas that are expected to be hit hard — Galveston and Corpus Christi — have seen only slight increases in gas prices. So, at least on the surface, it seems only a few stations may be taking advantage of the situation in the Houston area.
Nationally, the storm is putting a damper on what had become a relative freefall in gas prices. Gasoline prices have declined 10.7%, or 43.9 cents, since July 17, when they were $4.114 a gallon. They’re down 11.2 cents in the past month, but up 86.7 cents from a year ago, according to CNN.
Recently, prices have edged up again slightly, to $3.675 a gallon, AAA says.
That increase could grow even if the hurricane ends up being less damaging than anticipated, because things are already shutting down in the Gulf region. It’s believed that the national average could break the record set July 17, though analysts think prices should stabilize later this fall.
Houston gas price crunch (CNNMoney.com)