The overnight surge in gas prices Aiken saw from Monday to Tuesday swept across the state one day later, marking the highest jump in average prices in the Carolinas since Hurricane Katrina.
Gas prices in Aiken averaged around $3.36 per gallon Monday. Prices soared overnight, 30 cents or more at some stations, to around $3.66 Tuesday. On Wednesday, prices hovered around $3.70.
AAA Carolinas reported prices jumped on average 7.6 cents a gallon from Tuesday to Wednesday in South Carolina to $3.57.
“Pump prices will continue upward in the next few days as Hurricane Isaac directly affects price ... due to 90 percent of our gasoline coming from pipelines getting supplied by Gulf of Mexico onshore refineries getting crude from the Gulf’s oil rigs,” said David E. Parsons, president and CEO of AAA Carolinas. “Many refineries are shut down and oil rigs have been evacuated.”
At least 1 million barrels per day of refining capacity is expected to be shut down, which is about half the refining capacity in the storm’s predicted path, according to The Associated Press. The U.S. consumes about 19 million barrels of oil products per day.
The greatest one-night price increase in South Carolina occurred from Aug. 31, 2005, to Sept. 1, 2005. Prices jumped 15.8 cents to a state average of $2.62.
“The longer Isaac lingers in the Gulf, the more prices will increase,” Parsons said.
That’s grim news for Justin Shealy, who only puts about $15 worth of gas in his car every two days. He filled up for $3.70 per gallon Wednesday.
“I don’t fill up very often because I can’t afford it. I’m too afraid to see what it’ll cost,” he said. “I know prices are up because of Hurricane Isaac, at least that’s what the government says.”
AAA Carolinas anticipates the escalating gas prices and predictions of poor weather due to Isaac, now a tropical storm, will cut down on Labor Day holiday travel. Last year, Labor Day gas prices averaged $3.38 a gallon.
It’s certainly keeping Shealy local.
“I’m going to stay as close to home as possible,” he said.