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Gas prices rise as major storms rock the South | News

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Gas prices rise as major storms rock the South
Gas prices rise as major storms rock the South

Tampa, FL -- The trading price of crude oil inched up slightly last week as news of Tropical Storm Lee threatened Gulf refineries, according to a AAA Club South report.

AAA reports Tropical Storm Lee caused multiple companies to shutdown and evacuate refineries in the Gulf of Mexico cutting off 48 percent of output quotas.  Hurricane Katia has yet to make landfall, but is threatening the East coast of the U.S.

Currently a Category 2 hurricane, Katia has the potential to damage refineries along the East coast, which could push oil and gas prices higher. Crude oil closed Friday at $86.45 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange--$1.08 more than the week prior. 

"Retail gas prices rose an average of 5 cents last week in the Southeast and are expected to increase further this week after Lee disrupted Gulf refining," said Jessica Brady, spokesperson, AAA Auto Club South. "Normally, oil would trade at higher prices as a result of the storms, but bearish economic news is keeping downward pressure on prices."

The national average price of unleaded regular gasoline is $3.66 a gallon, 6 cents more than last week with Florida’s average price coming in at $3.61.

Average retail gasoline prices in Tampa rose 6.2 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.55 a gallon yesterday, according to gasoline price website TampaGasPrices.com.

"Gasoline prices continue to slowly advance, but with major storms impeding the activity of refineries, it shouldn't come as a shock," said Patrick DeHaan, GasBuddy.com Senior Petroleum Analyst. "I believe that we may see additional impacts with Tropical Storm Lee as many oil platforms have already ceased production, and there may be refineries that shut due to intense rain. The good news is that I do expect gasoline prices to being falling closer to the end of September as we switch back to cheaper winter gasoline and the peak of hurricane season passes," DeHaan adds.

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