Gas Prices Around America Shoot Upward after Hurricane Hits - - The News for South Mississippi

Gas Prices Around America Shoot Upward after Hurricane Hits

GULF COAST -- Crude oil, petroleum products and natural gas futures prices soared as Hurricane Katrina whipped through America's key oil producing and oil-refining region of the Gulf of Mexico. The price of a barrel of oil has already reached $70 and gasoline is predicted to top $3 a gallon.

"I think it's justified that prices are going up," said Vahan Janjigian from Forbes Investor Advisory Institute. "We could see prices go up even higher if we find out that the damage is more extensive than we currently think," he added.

Drivers all over America started feeling the pinch.  In Toledo, Ohio drivers formed gas lines to tank up on $2.64 regular unleaded, and some stations actually ran out of regular gas early Monday evening because so many people wanted to fill up.

Chuck Rainey filled up his 8-mile-to-the-gallon RV getting it ready for storage. "I can't afford to drive it," said Rainey. And he got his gas now after hearing Katrina could send prices higher. "Yeah, I don't trust the oil companies," he told WLOX's sister station WTOL.

Other drivers said the same thing.  "It's going to go through the roof," said driver Tony DiLorenzo. "I don't want to be caught," he added. "They always jack it up for the holiday anyways and this is just going to be another nickel in their pocket," said gas buyer Michelle Dennis.

Kathy Williams is a gas station clerk who tells us she's heard the prices will rise soon. But even now she's seen more and more counterfeit bills like a $20 she caught while we were there. "That's what it's come to," she said about people buying gas with fake money.

Some aren't convinced the prices will automatically go up after the storm but they'll be watching to see if it's any different this time around. "It'll be interesting to see what happens," said driver Bill McElheney. "Seems like the prices go up whenever there's an emergency but they don't come down real quick when the emergency goes away."

For Rainey and his soon-to-be-stored RV, they're calling it a season even before the Labor Day weekend still wishing people well or as well as they can be with gas prices. "Good luck to every one and their pocketbook," Rainey said.

Gas prices soared in New York and Gulf coast markets in anticipation of the storm. Big oil companies evacuated more than 600 platforms and about 100 rigs which produce about 1.6 million barrels a day all shutdown.

Government and industry data shows the Gulf of Mexico normally produces two million barrels of crude oil a day which is about 35% of the United States' domestic output.

WTOL-TV in Toledo, Ohio contribted to this report.

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