"Post-eclipse" gas pump prices are still climbing across Idaho, amid high local demand - but higher prices and tight Gulf Coast supplies due to Hurricane Harvey are unlikely to derail Labor Day plans to visit family and friends, according to the American Automobile Association.
Almost half of USA refining capacity is in the Gulf Coast region, an area with proximity to plentiful crude supplies from Texas oil fields and also Mexican and Venezuelan oil imports. "Prices are going to move higher and there's going to be some panic behavior", said Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis at Oil Price Information Service.
At $2.75 a gallon, Idaho motorists are paying 29 cents more today than a year ago, and prices could reach $2.85 per gallon in the coming days.
The grain sector turned higher for the first time in five weeks with short covering emerging ahead of month end and a long weekend in the USA due to its September Labor day holiday.
Harvey made landfall on Friday as the most powerful hurricane to hit Texas in more than 50 years, resulting in the death of at least 17 people.
The Energy Information Administration (EIA) earlier this year had forecast that technological and process improvements would lift US production sharply, leading some analysts and executives to predict 10 million bpd by December.
Members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries renewed a deal with 10 other crude-oil producers in May to withhold nearly 2% of global oil supply.
The International Energy Agency, which co-ordinates releases of government-held fuel stocks in the event of major disruptions, said it believed the U.S. had plentiful petrol and diesel inventories to ride out current supply issues.
"The impact could linger for several weeks or longer, depending on how long it takes Texas refiners to return to normal operations", GasBuddy analyst Patrick DeHaan said earlier this week.
Exxon Mobil Corp said on Saturday it was restarting its 560,500 barrel per day (bpd) facility in Baytown, Texas, America's second-biggest oil refinery, after it was inundated by flooding. Total commercial petroleum inventories decreased by 1.1 million barrels last week.
In other words, Harvey has disrupted about one-fifth of the country's total refining capability.
Gasoline prices have increased by at least 10 cents a gallon since Harvey came ashore and caused record flooding, shutting down oil refineries along the Texas and Louisiana coasts. Valero also announced the shutdown of its Port Arthur refinery on Wednesday afternoon.
Goldman Sachs analysts wrote Wednesday that they expected about a tenth of what is now offline to stay shut for several months.
The reserve, established in the early 1970s after the Arab oil embargo caused panics over fuel supply, now contains 679 million barrels of oil.
Roughly one-third of the country's refining capacity is located between Corpus Christi, Texas, and Lake Charles.
All of this means there is a lot less supply of gasoline, leading to higher gas prices.
The trickle being offloaded from the 679 million-barrel reserve isn't yet large enough to affect prices in the broader market, said Gene McGillian, market research manager at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Conn. "The good news for consumers is that it seems some of the units are in the process of getting back in operation".