The price for gasoline in Florida is going up and supplies are going down even as the state, the third largest gasoline market in the country and the biggest on the East Coast, gears up for hurricane season to begin in a month.
Florida has no refineries of its own and instead depends on tankers and barges to deliver 97 percent of its gasoline. Ships are in short supply due to federal restrictions under the Jones Act that require vessels that deliver between American ports to be U.S. flagged, built, staffed and owned. That has helped push retail gasoline prices to their third-highest level ever for the season -- $3.676 a gallon Monday -- and has pushed stockpiles 7 percent below where they were a year ago.
A three-day shutdown of Houston's ship channel in March because of a crash and oil spill helped exacerbate the decline of gasoline stockpiles in Florida and other Southeastern states by temporarily cutting off deliveries from refineries in Texas and Louisiana. On March 28, Florida received 20.9 million barrels of gasoline, the lowest amount since November 2012 according to U.S. Energy Information Administration data.
Some worry that a hurricane could seriously disrupt oil supplies in Florida. Others largely dismiss those fears. The head of Florida's Division of Emergency Management said that the state has worked to beef up its disaster preparation and by extension the resiliency of the state's petroleum industry.
Considerations are underway to increase supplies to Florida by beefing up pipelines and increasing shipping by sea (Harvey/Doan, Bloomberg, May 7).
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