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Kloza said retail prices haven't gone up more significantly because gas stations "don't want to be the evil guy who raises prices during the storm".

USA drivers are starting to feel the effects of Tropical Storm Harvey in their wallets as the country's fuel distribution network starting at the Gulf Coast and stretching across the country is squeezed by floods, refinery closures and dwindling supplies. "So consumers are likely to see higher prices for at least the short term", said Kristie Bell, spokeswoman for Des Moines-based Kum & Go, which has 11 locations in the Omaha area.

According to AAA, the national average jumped 4 cents Tuesday, one of the largest one-week gas price surges seen nationwide this summer.

Gasoline futures rose almost 3 percent Monday. The Gulf accounts for about one-fifth of US oil production. Amrita Sen of Energy Aspects says global demand growth "is absolutely soaring right now", which should ultimately push prices up. Prices are already up by six cents a gallon in Washington, D.C., Georgia and SC since Friday, when the national average was about $2.35 a gallon. No major damage has been reported to oil rigs and production is beginning to come back.

Outside of the immediate impact from Harvey, last week saw another decline in USA exploration and production activity.

The data will tend to be overshadowed by uncertainty surrounding production and refining capacity following Harvey with expectations that reduced refining operations will undermine short-term demand for crude.

Platts estimated about a quarter of the US offshore crude oil production was impacted by the storm.

In addition to the Colonial Pipeline, multiple Texas ports remained closed Tuesday.

In a story August 28 about the effect of Tropical Storm Harvey on the economy, The Associated Press reported erroneously that USA daily refining capacity is 18 billion barrels per day.

Now, those high oil inventories are providing a helpful cushion in the aftermath of Harvey. On Wednesday, Exxon announced the shutdown of its Beaumont, Texas refinery as well due to "operational issues" caused by Harvey. The $50 level above could be targeted eventually, but it's not until the refineries open that we will see that. Oil prices need a so-called Goldilocks number - one that's not so high that it stimulates robust production and not so low that it stymies the industry - and US operators are reacting as the market remains stuck near the $50 per barrel level.

The flooding has interrupted about 16% of US refining capacity, which translates to about 785,000 gallons of gas lost each day, Goldman Sachs analysts wrote in a research report.

More good news: Gasoline markets aren't freaking out.

However, the extreme flooding could prevent some refinery workers from being able to return to work.


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