Harvey's impact could raise gas prices nationwide

HOUSTON (WPVI) -- About one quarter of the oil refining capacity in the region hit by Hurricane Harvey was knocked offline, and that means higher gas prices for the rest of the country.

Here in the Delaware Valley, officials from AAA say the impact isn't being felt in our area just yet.

"We've seen minimal increases overnight in the Philly five county area, and Delaware and New Jersey. However, what our analysts are telling us is that we haven't even seen the manifestation of these price increases hit just yet," said Jana Tidwell of AAA.

And when those price increases do kick in, we will likely see an average increase of 10 to 20 cents per gallon.

That's up from a previous forecast of five to 15 cents per gallon, according to energy industry experts.

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Chad Pradelli reports from the flood zone in Houston, Texas on Action News at 5pm on August 29, 2017.

As of Tuesday morning, five refineries in the Houston area and six more near Corpus Christi were closed, with another seven refineries in the region operating at a reduced capacity.

Still, there are two primary factors at play helping to mitigate the impact

First, gasoline inventories are at historically high levels. Second, the summer driving season is winding down, which will decrease the demand for gasoline.

But Tidwell points out that summer is not over just yet, so expect those gasoline price hikes later this week.

"They are likely to hit just as we area heading into Labor Day weekend, that final, last hurrah of the summer driving season," she said.

The average on Tuesday was $2.38 per gallon, and that was expected to rise to $2.50 per gallon over the next week.

It may take anywhere from two to four weeks - perhaps more - for prices to go back to normal.

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