Hurricane Isaac causes gas prices to spike through Midwest

KentWired Video

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Video by Rich Pierce.

While Hurricane Isaac tears its way through the Gulf Coast, Kent residents find they are

also feeling the storm’s effects — at the gas pump. Isaac has caused reduced output or shutdown

in several southern oil refineries, leading to gas price increases, especially in the South and


Gulf refineries and drilling platforms shut down to minimize possible damage following

the hurricane’s coastal touchdown. According to Time Magazine, refineries in the Gulf area are

responsible for almost a quarter of the U.S. crude oil production and make up nearly 40 percent

of the nation’s total refining capability.

While analysts are not expecting long-term damage, the temporary shutdown diminishes

supply, causing a spike in gas prices.

The Huffington Post reported the price increase as the most significant in the last 18

months with Illinois, Indiana and Ohio facing more dramatic increases after the storm forced the

shutdown of a pipeline responsible for supplying several Midwest refineries.

The stoppage has resulted in gas prices as high as $4.49 per gallon in metropolitan areas

like Chicago, but Kent gas stations aren’t immune either.

Trish Boyd, a manager at Sheetz gas station on state Route 59 in Kent, said the price has

gone up 15 cents since Monday, leaving motorists to pay $3.89 for a gallon of gas.

The price isn’t just being driven up by Mother Nature. Panicked drivers are helping to

inflate the already steep prices by stockpiling gasoline, participating in an “expectation effect.”

This behavior can inflate the price of gas as supply and demand are altered.

Shawn Rohlin, a Kent State assistant economics professor, said the short-term price hike

comes from stoppages and price conscious drivers alike.

“Hurricane Isaac causes an immediate short-term effect caused by expectations,” Rohlin

said. “People foresaw that Hurricane Isaac was coming and gas prices immediately rose even

though the negative effects of the hurricane hadn’t occurred.”

More refineries will resume operations as Isaac continues to weaken following landfall.

Meaning even though gas prices sit at a record high (and will likely derail several road trips over

the holiday weekend), Rohlin said the price spike is probably temporary.

“It should have a lasting impact in the short term, mainly because people can’t react to

gas price increases in the short term,” Rohlin said. “It should not have a long-term effect. Once

all the refiners are fixed, prices should go back to what they were before.”

Contact Jon Milligan at [email protected].