Gas price slide continues, Hurricane Nate impact unclear

Staff Reports • Updated Oct 11, 2017 at 9:00 AM

NASHVILLE – Tennessee gas prices continued on a steep slide for the last three weeks and should drift even lower this week. 

The state average declined for the 28th consecutive day Sunday, dropping a total of 20 cents since Sept. 16. 

Tennessee motorists paid an average of $2.39 at the pump Sunday, an 8-cent discount from last week. Despite the recent slump at the pump, regular unleaded remains 25 cents more than this time last year, as prices recover from supply-and-demand issues related to recent hurricanes. The largest weekly discounts during the past week were found in Chattanooga at 10 cents, Johnson City-Kingsport-Bristol at 10 cents and Clarksville-Hopkinsville at 9 cents.

The most expensive metro markets in the state were Nashville at $2.48, Clarksville-Hopkinsville at $2.40 and Johnson City-Kingsport-Bristol at $2.37. The least expensive metro markets in the state were Memphis at $2.35, Chattanooga at $2.35 and Knoxville at $2.37.

“The state average is falling by about a cent a day, as retail prices continue to recover from the effects of hurricanes Irma and Harvey,” said Mark Jenkins, spokesman for AAA. “Gas prices remain inflated by about 20-30 cents and should decline another 5-10 cents this week. Hurricane Nate’s impact on the Gulf Coast region should not affect local prices. However, if refineries and oil rigs have a difficult time resuming normal operations and futures prices spike, then the local gas price plunge could stall out. This is something that will take a few days to play out.”

Hurricane Nate impacted operations at offshore oil production sites and refineries in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

OPIS reported the market is awaiting status updates from refineries in the Gulf Coast, but no damage was reported as of Sunday.

Even if there is no damage at any of the refineries, OPIS speculated shut-in Gulf of Mexico oil production could pose a crude oil supply issue. 

Nate forced the closure of triple the volume of Gulf offshore crude production than Hurricane Harvey.

The total stood at 1.6 million barrels per day during the weekend, or 92.3 percent of typical daily output in the region, according to the federal Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. 

During the weekend, ports were closed in New Orleans; Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Mobile, Alabama; Pascagoula, Mississippi; Panama City, Florida; and Pensacola, Florida.

The U.S. Coast Guard spent Sunday making assessments of ports, refineries and returning personnel to offshore production. 

As of late Sunday night, oil and gasoline prices trended lower in futures trading.

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