USA releases 1 million barrels of Strategic Petroleum Reserve

Prices at the pump haven't budged much - yet.

According to AAA, the national average was $2.52 on Friday morning.

But gasoline futures, which reflect wholesale prices and eventually trickle down to consumers, have started to spike again. Three more refineries in Port Arthur, Texas, followed suit on Thursday, bringing the total sidelined USA capacity to about 20 percent.

A few stations Channel 3 visited on Friday ran out, but experts said there's no reason to race to the gas station to fill up.

"Something's got to give, and in this case, prices are going up", DeHaan said.

Industry experts warned last week that significant damage to a major refinery could lead to a 25-cent-per-gallon gasoline price hike in the wake of the storm. "Right now what I say to everybody is we're at the mercy of the market, so our fuel supply prices are going up a lot", says Chief Operations Officer of Parker's gas stations, Jeff Bush. "With this whole tip in the balance, in which the U.S.is in a deficit of gas production and the price of gas is soaring, that's drawing the eye of gas refineries around the globe".

The oil market outside the United States remains well supplied with ample production by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

The U.S. air travel system is heading into the holiday weekend with one arm tied behind its back, with a surge of Labor Day travelers taking to the skies while Houston's busy airports remain hobbled from Hurricane Harvey. The barrels were loaned to a refinery in Lake Charles, Louisiana, which has not been affected by now Tropical Storm Harvey.

Flooding and power failures have reduced USA fuel-making capacity by about 4.25 million barrels a day. That's higher than roughly two-thirds of the nation and could continue to rise.

Still, conditions are returning to normal around the Port of Corpus Christi, where flooding was minimal.

"At 5 a.m., Motiva began a controlled shutdown of the Port Arthur refinery in response to increasing local flood conditions", the company said in a statement emailed to UPI.

He said Marathon and Valero refineries in Texas City are on stream and ramping up operations, as is the Houston Valero refinery.

President Donald Trump has proposed selling almost half the petroleum reserve amid an oil production boom that has seen USA imports drop sharply in the past decade.

Just like the banks, Sitton said there's plenty of supply, but it will take longer to get that gasoline to the stations due to the high demand.

In Libya, the 120,000 bpd Zawiya oil refinery was working at only half its capacity due to the shutdown at the Sharara oilfield, according to a refinery source.

However, the extreme flooding could prevent some refinery workers from being able to return to work.

  • Leroy Wright