The devastating floods and other damage caused by Hurricane Ida, the fifth-largest hurricane to ever make landfall in the U.S., could end up doing $80 billion worth of damage to New Orleans and southeast Louisiana. Sadly, the demand for gasoline by evacuating families and people fueling generators has led to a dire situation in the area, at least for now. The New Orleans Times-Picayne described the situation on Wednesday: “Motorists are prowling the streets, looking for fuel tankers to follow to the next gas station.” The death toll and final damage estimates will not be known for a while. Meanwhile, other parts of the country outside of the hurricane’s path might feel some impact of the storm when it comes to gas prices. Or they might not.
With normal life disrupted in the area and only limited power available, oil and gas production has stopped in the local Gulf region. The federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement announced Sunday that over 95 percent of all oil production in the Gulf of Mexico had been temporarily closed down when the storm arrived. AAA said the storm took around 13 percent of all U.S. refining capacity offline, and that four of the nine oil refineries in Ida’s path were shut down at least temporarily. Colonial Pipeline also shut down two pipelines between Houston, Texas, and Greensboro, North Carolina, before the storm but restarted them late Monday evening. CBS News reports that some of the fuel terminals and refineries there have already restarted operations.
The short shutdown means that gas prices may not climb as high as some analysts initially predicted, around five cents a gallon in the short term. AAA said the national gas price average was at its lowest point since early July over the weekend, but then climbed back up (just a penny) to $3.15 by Monday morning, after Hurricane Ida passed through. Early Wednesday, GasBuddy’s Patrick De Haan tweeted that the national average rose three cents a gallon Tuesday to $3.18 a gallon. For the full story, check out this article from Car And Driver.