Views on commodities and energy
Where are U.S. gasoline prices heading?
Gasoline shortages in North Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, and parts of Florida in the wake of Hurricane Ike have driven some consumers to desperate measures as they hunt for places to fill up. People were cutting in long lines, fighting at gas stations, and hoarding gas in multiple containers, according to local news reports.
Hurricane Ike shut 15 refineries in the Gulf Coast’s refinery row and shut several pipelines as well. The outages have driven U.S. gasoline inventories to their lowest levels since 1967, and refinery utilization rates have sunk to their lowest rates on record.
The disruptions have upended the traditional pecking order of gas prices: Less supply from Gulf Coast refineries has taken away the region’s traditional advantage in gasoline pricing. Motorists in California, meanwhile, have enjoyed a respite from paying the highest gasoline prices in the continental United States.
By Wednesday, 18 states still had higher gasoline prices than California — which normally has the highest pump prices because of tougher environmental fuel standards and a lack of access to supplies produced east of the Rockies.
With a slowing economy and seemingly routine disruptions in supply, it’s hard to know which way gas prices are heading. What do you think U.S. residents will be paying at the pump a month from now?
Vote in our poll below, or go to the news prediction site HubDub to place a virtual wager on gas prices.