The arctic air that has settled over the majority of the country, specifically in the South and Gulf states, has forced about a dozen oil refineries to at least partially shut down. That slow down in production could cause a 10-20 cent-per-gallon increase in the national average price of gasoline, according to fuel tracking website GasBuddy.com.
According to their analysis of the situation, 11 refineries in Texas and one in Kansas have partially or completely shut down because of the extremely cold temperatures. Although refineries in states further north are prepared for cold temperatures, those in the southern part of the U.S. may not have protection from the historically low temperatures they are now seeing.
That is resulting in about a 20% drop in refining capacity as of Tuesday afternoon.
“Even after this event is over, it may take refineries days or even a week or two to fully return to service, and with gasoline demand likely to accelerate as we approach March and April, the price increases may not quickly fade,” said Patrick De Haan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy.
The national average, according to GasBuddy, is around $2.54 per gallon. The refining slowdown because of the winter weather could cause a jump up to between $2.65-$2.75 a gallon. They say states closest to the impacted refineries will see higher increases.
De Haan said motorists likely won’t see relief in the form of cheaper gas prices “anytime soon.”
“Oil prices have continued to rally as global oil demand recovers from the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and now the extreme cold weather shutting refineries down, us motorists just can’t seem to catch a break.”
GasBuddy expects the national average for a gallon of gas could get close to $3 a gallon around Memorial Day, as refineries begin to switch over to summer fuels.