Jalyn Henderson Daily Shift 2

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COLUMBIA - Columbia gas prices are spiking, and petroleum officials said Hurricane Harvey is the reason.

"Gas prices are going up because we're having a big problem in the Texas area as a result of Hurricane Harvey. It has put out about 30 percent of the total U.S. refining capacity," said Ronald Leone, executive director of the Missouri Petroleum Marketers & Convenience Store Association.

Leone said the storm hit much of the infrastructure necessary for turning crude oil and refining it into gasoline and diesel.

Even though Columbia is far from the direct effects of the storm, it is still affected by the limited supply of gas.

According to gaspricewatch.com, the average cost for gas per gallon was $2.17 on Wednesday. By Thursday morning, it was $2.43.

Some Columbia residents are already concerned about the increase.

Aliyha Hill is an MU student who drives to campus and around the city regularly. 

When she went to a Shell gas station on Providence Road on Wednesday night, she said, the price shot up 23 cents between the time she walked in to make a purchase and got back to her car.

"Honestly I was kind of confused about it. I had to do some research myself about gas and oil, and I was talking to my dad and he was telling me that it was probably due to the hurricane," Hill said. "I just thought, 'How can you change prices if you have customers still at your gas station?'" 

It usually takes Hill $20 to fill up her gas tank. With the increase in price. she said she just wanted enough gas to "make it through" until prices go back down.

Leone said there is no way to gauge how long the prices will stay, or how high they will get. He said it's solely dependent on how long it takes to get the oil refineries running again after Harvey clears out.

"In terms of how it impacts the motor fuel infrastructure, this is worse than Katrina in 2005," Leone said. "It's unprecedented and no one's ever seen this before, so the facts on the ground are changing minute by minute."

To stay up to date with gas price changes, you can check websites like Gasbuddy, Gaspricewatch and Autoblog

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