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Gas prices up after Harvey

Gas prices across the country have spiked after Hurricane Harvey hit the Texas and Louisiana coasts, where much of the country’s oil refineries operate.

According to AAA, the national average is $2.44 as of Thursday morning, about a full week after Harvey made landfall. The website has Missouri’s average at $2.29.

However, ABC 17 News crews have been seeing many stations around the Columbia area closer to the $2.50 mark, higher than the national average. One station raised its price 10 cents in one hour, from $2.39 to $2.49.

Compared to last week, the national average has gone up 4 cents; 16 cents in Missouri. This time last year, the national average was $2.22; the average in Missouri going into the Labor Day holiday was $2.08.

So far, two of the country’s largest refineries have closed due to flooding and damage.

Economists predicted there would be a spike in prices because of the storm, however, they do believe the jump will be brief.

It’s too soon to tell how this impact of about 1/5 of the country’s oil refinery capability will affect long-term prices, particularly in the airline and shipping industries.

ABC 17 News spoke with Ron Leone, executive director of Missouri Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association, who said retailers have no regulation on how high they can price gas.

“The competitive forces provide all the marketplace protections you need because you can’t stay in business if your prices are too high,” he said.

While it’s unclear how much gas could go up for Missouri, experts are predicting another 15 cent increase by next week totaling an increase of nearly 25 cents since Hurricane Harvey.

The Missouri Attorney General’s Office told ABC 17 News that they urge residents to file a claim or call their office if they suspect price gouging.

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