Gas prices are starting to come down in North Carolina, but don’t expect them to fall as fast as they went up.
The average price for a gallon of regular unleaded in the Triangle was $2.581 early Wednesday morning, about 3 1/2 cents lower than a week ago, according to AAA. That’s still about 38 cents higher a gallon than before Hurricane Harvey came ashore in Texas on Aug. 25.
Most of the gasoline sold in North Carolina comes from the Gulf Coast, where refineries are still working to get back online after the storm. As of Monday, six Gulf Coast refineries were operating at reduced rates, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, while five were in the process of restarting and three remained shut down.
Meanwhile, Hurricane Irma caused a spike in demand for fuel as people evacuated Florida or stocked up on gas anticipating shortages. That temporary drain on supplies at a time when refineries are still off line has helped keep prices from coming down. But the situation is improving, according to AAA.
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“Gas prices are dropping as the situation with refineries, pipelines and gasoline deliveries is positively progressing,” said spokeswoman Jeanette Casselano. “It looks like pump prices will continue on this declining trend into the coming weeks as the regions affected by Irma and Harvey resume normal operations.”
Gas prices usually begin to go down around Labor Day, as the summer driving season comes to an end and refiners switch to a different blend of fuel that’s cheaper to produce. On this day last year, a gallon of regular unleaded in the Triangle cost an average of $2.195, according to AAA.