Hurricane Ike sends gas prices soaring; diesel and oil prices remain steady

| 9/12/2008

Gasoline prices that continue to spike around the country were at first fueled by panic on the spot markets that sent the price of wholesale gasoline up by as much as a dollar in the Gulf States alone.

The Oil Price Information Service reported Thursday that the panic from the gasoline markets had yet to hit diesel – hinting that it would follow. Click here for diesel prices in your area.

Offshore oil and gas operators in the Gulf of Mexico have evacuated platforms and rigs and have shut down oil and natural gas production in preparation for Hurricane Ike, according to Mineral Management Services.

The agency reports an estimated 97.5 percent of the production of 1.3 million barrels of oil produced each day in the Gulf has been shut down.

As of Friday afternoon, Hurricane Ike had little impact on the trade prices of light sweet crude oil on the New York Mercantile Exchange. In fact, with less than an hour of trading left on Friday, oil was down 30 cents to $100.88 per barrel.

Crews will not return to work until the production platforms and rigs are inspected once Hurricane Ike has moved from the area.

Currently, the biggest concern is fuel supplies at truck stops and gas stations along the evacuation routes in Texas. The 2005 bungled evacuation of the Galveston coastal area and Houston in the days before Hurricane Rita weighs heavily on the minds not only of evacuees, but also of Texas state officials.

“There’s a fuel team down at the state operations center that’s basically made up of industry people, like Exxon and several others, who have connection with all of the people who deliver fuel,” said Randy Ormsby, public information officer with Texas Department of Transportation.

“They are working very closely with them to make sure, as they get reports of outages and shortages, they’re making sure those areas get refueled and they are concentrating, of course, on the coastal areas – so that when people get back and when the emergency responders go in, they have fuel.”

It’s highly recommended by Natso, the organization representing truck stop and travel plaza retailers that truckers check with fuel stops in areas where they are headed – especially those in Hurricane Ike’s path – to check whether they are open and have fuel.

The following is a list of the Web sites of most of the major truck stop chains in the areas potentially affected by Hurricane Ike:

Love’s Travel Stops (Click on the What’s New link on the top right of the page.)
Pilot Travel Centers
Petro Stopping Centers
Flying J Inc.
TA Travel Centers

– By Jami Jones, senior editor

Staff Writer Clarissa Kell-Holland contributed to this report