Hurricane Ike’s assault on the Gulf Coast has closed over 19% of US refinery capacity and may hurt delivery nationwide, Bloomberg reports. At least 13 Texas refineries have shut down operations, which may trigger a gasoline shortage in the southern and eastern US—and it may last a while, observers say. “Ike is headed into the heart of the refining industry,” says an energy expert.
“The damage is likely to come in flooding, a lack of power for an extended period of time,” he adds. Fears of gas shortages have already prompted price gouging in some parts of the Southeast, ABC reports, with some gas stations charging as much as $6 a gallon. The governors of several states have signed orders declaring a state of "abnormal market disruption," activating anti-gouging laws. The Gulf Coast provides half the fuel and crude oil used in the eastern US.