Hurricane Isaac is drenching the Gulf Coast, making landfall on the seventh anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
Isaac is not as destructive, but it’s dumping torrents of rain on the seaport city, turning streets into streams and knocking out power to more than 600,000 people. But the revamped levee system is holding.
The devastating flooding caused by numerous levee breaches and pump failures when Katrina assaulted New Orleans has not happened this time. What the city has now is a flood-control system that should have been in place years before.
Today’s system is working, holding back the water in a wide area that is basically a flood plain.
What the levees can’t hold back are gasoline prices.
AAA Carolinas reported Hurricane Isaac has caused the sharpest overnight spike in gas prices in the Carolinas since Hurricane Katrina.
According to AAA, via The Associated Press, South Carolina prices jumped almost 8 cents a gallon to nearly $3.58 on Wednesday. In the Upstate, which typically has the lowest gas prices, the increase was almost 11 cents.
Gas was up more than 5 cents a gallon in North Carolina with the average price $3.73. Prices in the Asheville area were up more than 6 cents.
AAA says prices will increase as long as the storm disrupts Gulf of Mexico oil operations. Drilling platforms were shut down and evacuated as Isaac approached.
The sharpest single overnight gas price increase in the region was during Katrina in 2005 when prices jumped almost 16 cents a gallon in South Carolina and almost 12 cents in North Carolina.
The crude oil from the drilling platforms takes months to go through the refining process and actually reach the gas pumps. Petroleum futures are the subject of daily speculation, but the gasoline supply the public is buying today is not affected by Hurricane Isaac.
However, prices change quickly and oil companies (not the people who operate the service stations and convenience stores) can hedge their bets on the fly against the possibility of a slowdown in future crude oil supplies. If there is a lag in production, and supplies are not where Big Oil thought they would be — no matter how temporary the interruption — the public may well see another adjustment at the pump.
Whether this is fair or gouging is up to the consumers. We hope Hurricane Isaac will not lead to price hikes on other products made with oil, such as plastics.
— The Hickory