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Paying more at the pump? Blame Hurricane Ida

Hurricane Ida made quite a mess across the large portion of Berks County and the region, including flood and wind damage in southeastern Pennsylvania.

Thanks to the storm, motorists are continuing to pay higher gas prices despite forecasts a few weeks ago that the prices would go down.

Ida, which hit the Gulf coast at Category 4 on Aug. 29, shut down a significant portion of oil and refinery production in and along the Gulf of Mexico.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Safety of Environmental Enforcement, about 30% of crude production in that region was still shuttered as of last week after the storm initially shut down 90% of production.

A potential second hit from Nicholas was avoided last week as it missed the part of the Texas coast where the energy industry is concentrated.

So it shouldn’t be a surprise that filling your gas tank has become a little more expensive in Berks County and beyond as the traditional post-Labor Day price drops have yet to take effect.

AAA said that this factor could keep prices elevated in the weeks ahead.

On Wednesday morning, GasBuddy reported that unleaded regular prices in Berks were up by 6 cents over the week to an average of $3.33 per gallon. That’s more than an 84-cent increase over the year. In the county, prices ranged from $3.15 to $3.45.

Nationally, the average price was up by 4 cents to $3.20.

“Gas prices have been stuck in somewhat of a limbo and remain near 2021 highs long after Hurricane Ida has dissipated,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy. “The damage done to oil production has been left behind and so far has prevented prices from resuming their seasonal decline.”

DeHaan said tight supply and continued high demand is keeping prices higher.

“Ida caused the loss of over 30 million barrels of oil production in the Gulf of Mexico, and with gasoline demand remaining relatively high for the season, oil inventories remain relatively tight, preventing any organized decline in gas prices for the time being,” he said. “As a result, we may have to wait a couple more weeks until hurricane season slows for oil inventories to start to rise and gas prices to fall.”

After a sharp drop in prices during the coronavirus pandemic, expensive gas came back with a vengeance in the spring and summer because of increased demand as Americans went back on the road for delayed trips and vacations. A cyberattack in the spring on the Colonial Pipeline, a major part of U.S. energy infrastructure, also boosted prices a bit.

Another factor is the OPEC cartel, which decided earlier this month to gradually increase production into 2022, according to reports. A quicker restoration could bring lower prices for gas.

Experts still say that the seasonal decrease is on the horizon.

“Timing is everything, and while supplies have tightened due to the slow recovery after Hurricane Ida, this is also the point when gas demand starts its seasonal decline,” said AAA spokeswoman Jeanette McGee. “While there may be some price fluctuation, we expect most motorists to see stability at the pump.”

Source: Berkshire mont

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