PARKERSBURG -Gasoline prices have increased sharply throughout the Mid-Ohio Valley and surrounding areas in the past week as weather in other areas of the country takes its toll.
"Most of everything happening right now with gas prices is because of the hurricane," said Jan Vineyard, president of the West Virginia Oil Marketers and Grocers Association (OMEGA).
On Wednesday, the national average per gallon of regular unleaded gasoline rose more than 5 cents to $3.80, according to AAA Gas Prices. The national average on Friday was nearly 3 cents higher at $3.829.
Gas prices in August steadily increased from a low of $3.51 a gallon on Aug. 1 to a high of $3.829 a gallon at the end of the month. This was the largest August price increase since 2005, when prices increased 33.5 cents a gallon, according to the AAA Gas Prices website (www.aaa.com/fuel).
"We are seeing huge adjustments in price because many of the refineries in the South were shut down for days," Vineyard said.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, about 95 percent of daily oil production had been shut down in the Gulf of Mexico Louisiana and Mississippi as a precaution against Hurricane Isaac, which hit the area late last weekend. This shutdown totaled 1.3 million barrels of oil a day.
About 23 percent of the domestic oil output is produced in the Gulf Coast, according to the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.
Because six of the refineries in Louisiana had stopped operations or reduced production as a precaution from the storm, supplies were expected to be strained, which raises prices, Vineyard said.
"Every time there is a problem with refineries - a fire, storm or other issue - gas prices rise," she said.
Motorists from the Mid-Ohio Valley who travel throughout West Virginia and Ohio have noted gasoline prices seem higher at home than in surrounding states.
One caller to The Parkersburg News and Sentinel said he noted about a 44-cent difference in gasoline prices between central West Virginia and the Parkersburg-Marietta area on Wednesday.
"Because news of the refineries closing hit Wednesday, the price difference could have hit while that man was driving," Vineyard said.
On the other hand, a local wholesale gasoline dealer said there is always a difference of a few cents to a quarter in gasoline prices between the Mid-Ohio Valley and other areas throughout Ohio and West Virginia.
"For some reason, gasoline companies charge more to deliver to this area," the dealer said. "I have asked (the companies) why our prices are higher for more than 20 years and have never gotten an answer."
According to AAA Gas Prices, the West Virginia average for gasoline as of 3 a.m. Friday was $3.885 a gallon, with the Parkersburg-Marietta average at $3.92, Charleston at $3.95, Huntington at $3.96 and Wheeling at $3.85.
Ohio's average Friday was $3.90, with the average price per gallon of regular unleaded gasoline in Canton at $3.89, Columbus at $3.92 and Cincinnati at $3.93, AAA said.