Wholesale gasoline market opens 10-cents higher approaches

UPDATE 4:50pm EDT: LOOP (Louisiana OffShore Oil Port) has been closed. Gustav is forecast to hit it directly. Any damage to LOOP would be catastrophic to the county and could raise oil prices $10 or more per barrel. This port provides over 1-million barrels of oil per DAY to the United States (via Middle East ships)

The wholesale market opened at 2:30pm EDT, as it always does Sunday afternoons for overseas trading. Gasoline has taken a large jump higher, currently holding at a 10-cent gain. Crude oil is up a marginal $2.50/bbl at this hour as well.

When Katrina hit, wholesale gasoline prices had easily seen swings of 50+cents/gallon. Today, SO FAR, its just 10-cents. Hopefully it will stay there.

I just crunched the numbers- with 2.2mb of refinery utilization shut (as of 3pm Sunday), the *remaining* refiners must ALL boost their utilization to 99.5% to cover for the refineries that have shut. That seems unlikely, but it IS possible. This should LIMIT any large hike in wholesale prices.

Keep an eye here today as I continue to monitor Gustav and refinery, rig, and industry news that could cause a prices to rise to over $4/gal again.

Currently, I would plan on filling up TONIGHT for $3.75 or less if possible, and brace for a price hike pending what happens on the market.

If we see a hike, it could be to $3.89, but again, that depends on the next few hours.

This situation reminds me of the night before Katrina hit and I filled up the night before prices took a huge jump. That COULD happen again. If you hear rumors, be sure to check here or feel free to comment and let us know what you’ve heard.

Patrick

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