Here’s an unexpected way to spend your stimulus check: At the gas pump.
The extreme winter weather in Texas has taken some of the largest refineries in the United States offline, and turning off the spigot could impact drivers throughout the country who are looking to fill up their gas tanks.
The national average cost of a gallon of gas for motorists could jump 10 to 20 cents per gallon over the next couple of weeks, according to Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis at GasBuddy.com. If the refineries—which handle about 20% of the country’s capacity—remain down for a week or more, we could be looking at a hike in prices of more than 20 cents per gallon.
Phil Flynn, a senior energy analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago, also expects to see gasoline prices rise 8 to 10 cents for the short term.
“It really depends on how long the refineries are shut down,” he says. “We’re looking at a big spike up.”
The problem is that 3.5 million barrels of capacity is offline. Plus, an estimated 2 million barrels of crude oil production is offline, which will lead to higher crude oil prices and gas prices, because the refineries aren’t making gasoline.
This week’s winter storm, which brought snow and freezing temperatures not normally seen in Texas, has battered the Lone Star State, leaving millions of people and businesses without power.