Gasoline prices fluctuated over the past few days as fears of an omicron-driven economic slowdown were countered by news of a severe fire at a major oil refinery. Today’s national average of $3.28 is 11 cents less than a month ago and $1.03 more than a year ago. Florida is at $3.22 per gallon, while Osceola is slightly higher at $3.25 for a gallon of regular unleaded.
Last Thursday, four people were injured when a fire erupted at the Exxon Mobil Corp refinery in Baytown, Texas. The plant is one of the largest refining and petrochemical facilities in the United States. If the damage forces the plant offline for long, the disruption could negatively affect gasoline prices. As a result, the recent steady decline in pump prices has slowed, with the national average for a gallon of gas falling two cents on the week to $3.28.
“We should learn more in the coming days about the extent of the damage to the refinery,” said Andrew Gross, AAA spokesperson. “If it can be back up and running in a few weeks, the effect could be minimal. But if repairs take months, consumers could begin seeing higher prices again at the pump.”
Typically, falling demand and increased supply would support larger drops in pump prices, but fluctuations in the price of crude oil have helped to keep pump prices elevated. If crude prices continue to climb, pump prices will likely follow suit.