Isaac fuels spike in gas prices

Published 12:00 am Thursday, August 30, 2012

By Nathan Hardin
SALISBURY – Motorists traveling south on South Main Street Wednesday afternoon may have been surprised to see gas prices jump 20 cents from one block to the next.Unleaded gasoline at Fastop, on South Main Street, was listed at $3.69 per gallon. Less than a tenth of a mile away, a Shell station was selling for $3.89.
Around the country motorists are seeing similar spikes as the national unleaded average rose a nickle to $3.80 Wednesday.
It was the highest one-day jump in 18 months.
The rise, analysts say, was caused by Hurricane Isaac, which made landfall Tuesday.
Tom Crosby, a spokesman for AAA Carolinas, said several refineries in the Gulf of Mexico shut down or cut back in anticipation of the storm.
The temporary stoppage, Crosby said, caused companies to boost their prices per barrel.
“They stopped production in anticipation of the hurricane, and for a while it looked like it was going to be stuck over New Orleans and the gulf,” Crosby said. “That’s the main reason.”
Crosby said drivers typically see lower prices after Labor Day when vacations slow and companies switch to different blends of gasoline.
But motorists will likely see higher prices for a while, Crosby said.
“It’s hard to predict,” Crosby said. “Prices typically go up faster than they go down.”
A cashier at the Fastop on South Main Street said business was about average Wednesday, but she saw an uptick in traffic at the station Tuesday when Fastop had one of the lowest prices in town.
“Yesterday it was rocking,” said the cashier, who asked not to be identified. “But by mid-afternoon we had raised the price 10 cents.”
Keaira Davis was one of several pumping gas at a Hess station on East Innes Street Wednesday afternoon.
Davis, a North Rowan High School senior, said gas prices are especially hard on students.
“I’m trying to finish my senior year,” she said. “I’m putting five dollars in my tank and the gas hand ain’t moving. This has to last me until Friday.”
Davis said she’s seen the prices going up. Unleaded gas at the Hess station Wednesday afternoon was $3.73.
The cheapest gas in Salisbury Wednesday was at the Atlantic Petroleum on East Innes Street for $3.64 a gallon.
“The prices need to come down,” she said.
Contact reporter Nathan Hardin at 704-797-4246.